Johnson T. Janes Park set to open

PARKERSBURG – Officials expect trails at Johnson T. Janes Park to open within the next few months.

While technically the city’s newest park already is open, features such as a walking bridge spanning Worthington Creek remain unavailable to the public.

City Development Director Ann Conageski said while the bridge is complete, it has been blocked off until paths to and from the span can be put into place. Officials also are working to make the paths leading to the bridge wheelchair accessible.

“Right now the bridge is boarded up so you cannot cross it,” she said.

“The approaches have not been completed. We’re hoping to have those done in the next month or so.”

Much of that work will depend on the weather. Conageski said recent rains, combined with already wet conditions in the 100-acre park, have slowed some work.

The park is located several blocks away from Parkersburg City Park and has an entrance on 27th Street. Nothing links the parking lot to the larger park except for a rough access road, Conageski said. Paths will be created from the parking lot to the bridge, Conageski said.

“When it dries out a bit, they are going to prepare a ramp so you can go from the parking lot to the path leading to the bridge,” she said. “We are working to make it all ADA accessible.”

Conageski said local biking and hiking groups will be placing signage on trails this weekend. Volunteers have been working to clear and rate trails in the park.

One of the main trails is a utility road that runs through the park, she said. Officials will be erecting barriers to prevent ATVs from running on those trails, she said.

Conageski said the Johnson T. Janes Park is more of a “passive recreation” park when compared to other city parks.

“There really are no facilities here,” she said. “You just go, walk around and enjoy nature.”

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said Johnson T. Janes Park is not the only park being prepped for the summer months. Work already is under way at City Park, Southwood Park and other public areas throughout the city.

“We absolutely are gearing up now for the spring and summer months when people start using these areas,” Newell said. “Many of our restrooms and facilities are winterized, shut down for the winter months. Those areas are being opened and cleaned and prepared for summer use.”

Newell also said officials are looking at adding new running trails at City Park to get runners off of the roads, and will be building a band shelter at Southwood Park.

Newell said crews also will be mowing and maintaining the parks throughout the season as rain and warm weather cause grass to grow and flowers to bloom.

“We do a lot of our own mulching and planting,” he said. “It is a busy time.”