Williamstown residents take pride in park

WILLIAMSTOWN – There is very little that Tomlinson Park-goers would change about their idyllic oasis in the middle of Williamstown.

“I’ve lived here a long time and I’m really proud of our park,” said Williamstown resident Susan Huggins, 57, who was at the park recently with her 20-month-old granddaughter Jocelyn Stead.

Located along Highland Avenue, amenities in the 6.7-acre park include multiple picnic shelters, a sprawling playground, horseshoe pits, a pool, a walking track, a gazebo and two restrooms.

In the summer, the park holds a weekly Music in the Park series, which sometimes draw hundreds of area residents, said Williamstown Mayor Jean Ford.

“We’re so community oriented. It’s great to have a place where we can all gather together,” said Ford.

The park is the largest of three in Williamstown. The city also maintains Fenton Park on West Virginia 14 and Armstrong Garden, at the corner of Highland Avenue and West Fifth Street.

One of the Tomlinson Park’s biggest draws is the variety of playground equipment, said Huggins.

“She’s not even 2 yet,” she said of her granddaughter. “But there’s a lot for her to do.”

Devola resident Megan Gourley, 32, agreed.

“There’s something here for every age group,” said Gourley, who was pushing her 13-month-old daughter Berkley in a swing.

Gourley was waiting on friends from her church who typically meet at the park on Friday mornings. The children in attendance usually represent a wide range of ages and different sections of the playground appeal to them all – smaller slides and plastic toys for young children and more adventurous jungle gyms and swings for the older ones.

The park is also shady and normally very quiet, added Gourley.

A handful of Fenton Art Glass dealers were set up inside the park Friday for a Fenton Art Glass Convention happening around the city.

Alice Lynn, a dealer from Mount Vernon, had nothing but good things to say about her first brush with Tomlinson Park.

“It’s wonderful. The restrooms are the cleanest I’ve seen. This is one of the nicest parks I’ve ever been to,” said Lynn, 76, who has visited every state in the country except Hawaii.

The park is also a popular wedding location.

“My grandson got married in the gazebo about a month ago,” said city councilwoman Barbara Lewis.

One of the reasons Tomlinson Park maintains its appeal is because it undergoes constant maintenance, said Ford.

“Every single day our maintenance people are in the park,” she said.

City employees take care of the regular maintenance of the park and the city outsources the weekly mowing duties, said Ford.

A parks committee headed by city councilman Martin Seufer is also constantly monitoring the park and taking notes of any needed improvements, she said. This year, the city installed new foam underneath one of the pieces of playground equipment, she said.

There are no immediate plans for future upgrades or changes to the park, said Ford.

“You know it’s so full, I don’t know what we could add to it,” she said.

Williamstown resident Vicki McIntosh could think of one thing to add.

“I’d like to see some speed bumps put in,” said McIntosh, 45.

A road that runs through the park has a posted speed limit of 5 miles per hour, but people generally drive much faster, said McIntosh, who was at the park with her 7-year-old daughter and a young girl they were babysitting.

The park is close and it gives her daughter the opportunity bump into friends, she added.

The park is also the location of the city’s annual Relay for Life walk, said Ford, and several school athletic groups use the park space for practices.

This year’s parks budget in Williamstown is $105,435 and covers supplies, utilities, and maintenance employees’ salaries for all three city parks.