DAVIS – In the summer of 2013, boulders unearthed during the construction of Corridor H gave some folks an idea for a local attraction and on Friday, they gathered in celebration of the ground breaking for the Tucker Boulder Park in Davis. Diane Hinkle, Development Director at Tucker Community Foundation said when the idea for the project was first presented, it was a hit.
“The idea of a public climbing park was presented to property owners, stakeholders, county boards, town officials and other interested parties and there was overwhelming support,” Hinkle said. “The goal is to create an impressive, aesthetically pleasing welcome to our county and to the Town of Davis. The project fits with the Tucker Community Foundation’s mission of creating opportunities for the communities we serve.”
Tucker Boulder Park will be located on the southeast corner of the Davis Ball Field, located on 2/10 acre of land provided by the Town of Davis. It will include three large manufactured climbing boulders. The park will provide an additional play space for youth and climbers of all ages. The park creates a trailhead for a new section of trail that will connect to the new trail paralleling Corridor H that is part of the Allegheny Highlands Trail. The park will feature the three climbing rocks, landscaping rocks, benches and a parking area.
Hinkle said the Davis Ball Field has been underutilized for many years.
“It’s great to see it back in use with three teams practicing there,” she said. “The boulders and trail will bring additional activity to the property and perhaps spark additional development. The Splash Park in Parsons has been a great attraction to that community, so maybe other unique projects like that will develop to help enhance the communities in Tucker County.”
Funding for the Tucker Boulder Park came from a Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant, a West Virginia DOT Recreational Trail Grant, private donations and corporate donations.
“The lead partners for the project are the Tucker Community Foundation with grant writing and fundraising, the Town of Davis who own the property, Dominion Foundation who kicked off the fundraising campaign, and Western Pocahontas Properties Inc., who approved a trail easement for a section of trail leading from the Tucker Boulder Park to the rail trail that parallels with Corridor H,” Hinkle said.
Other donors include Doug and Carol Milam, First Energy Foundation, the White Grass Team Boulder Park, E.L. Robinson Engineering, Oakland Foundation, St. George Medial Clinic, the Tucker County Parks and Recreation, Elaine Moore and Deborah McHenry, Scott and Diane Hinkle, Chris and Hilary Boyce, the Grant County Bank, Chip Chase and Laurie Little, Fairfax Stone, Falling Green Fund, the Heart of the Highlands, Jason Kitzmiller and ALL Construction Inc., Athey and Maggie Lutz, John and Pam Lutz, a donation in memory of Annalee Sanford Marshall, Lon Marshall, M & T Bank Charitable Foundation, Deborah Mowe, Mettiki Coal, Tucker County Trails, Cooper & Preston PLLC and a community of more than 100 generous donors. The Heart of the Highlands has donated materials for the trail kiosk.
Hinkle said others who participated in the early planning phase and who have endorsed the Tucker Boulder Park project include the Tucker County CVB, the Tucker County Planning Commission, the Tucker County Development Authority, the Tucker County Commission and the Tucker County Cultural District Authority.
Todd Meyers said the FirstEnergy Foundation is working with communities in their service areas to help the areas become better places to work and play.
“We felt this was a very interesting project,” Meyers said. “Not only will the Tucker Boulder Park be a great recreation area, but it will help establish permanent funding for Tucker County Emergency Medical Services in Tucker County.”
Meyers said initially the FirstEnergy Foundation gave $5,000 in 2014 and made subsequent yearly donations of $1,000 to the project.
“One of the Foundation’s priorities is to improve the vitality of communities and support key safety initiatives and this project does both,” Meyers said. “I am looking forward to seeing the park. I like to visit Davis and travel to Dolly Sods and Blackwater Falls. I can’t quite picture just what the Tucker Boulder Park will look like, but it sounds like it will be great with the rocks that came out from the Corridor H construction.”
Hinkle said the estimated budget to complete the Tucker Boulder Park is close to $500,000.
“No taxpayer dollars are involved,” Hinkle said. “More than $350,000 in funding has been secured through grants, private donations and in-kind support. All donations are tax deductible and options for donor recognition at the park are available.
Sunrise Construction will begin on the site preparation and installation of concrete pads when the weather permits. Two of the three climbing boulders will be installed this summer and open for climbing. Grants have been filed and fundraising to cover the cost of the third boulder are in progress. Construction on the trail connector will begin once the state issues a Notice to Proceed.
Tina Lipscomb is on the Davis Town Council and is a member of the Davis Parks and Recreation Commission. She said the Tucker Boulder Park will be on the other side of Davis.
“Once it is officially complete it will be turned over to the Town of Davis and will fall under the Davis Parks and Recreation Commission,” Lipscomb said. “The Park will help serve as the gateway to Davis for folks coming off the Corridor. Folks will see the Boulder Park and it will give people another reason to stop and check things out. Eventually, everything will be tied in together. We are hoping the vision we are seeing will tie in together.”
Lipscomb said the Tucker Boulder Park is not just for the visitors to the area.
“It gives another activity for our local residents to enjoy,” Lipscomb said. “This is a very unique thing for our area. You hear about boulder parks out West, but this is something that is very exciting. We have had some donors from around the state who are amazed that we are getting something like this. I feel this will be a great thing for the Town of Davis.”
Jessica Waldo, Executive Director of the Tucker County CVB and Visitor’s Center, said the Tucker Boulder Park will be another amenity and attraction for those who come to the area.
“We are an outdoor recreation destination and this just ties into that,” Waldo said. “It is so much more than just a boulder park with the trail connection to other trails in the area. Diane really focused on making sure it connected to other resources. Hopefully, this will bring life to the Davis Ball Park. When people come into the county, they will see this beautiful park where people can get out and stretch their legs.”
Once completed, the climbing park will be free to the public. Hinkle said the hand holds are bolted on which will allow for route resetting.
“Unlike traditional climbing walls, the boulders will be surrounded with environmentally friendly recycled rubber mulch and do not require a crash pad,” she said. “The extra-large boulder will provide adaptive features that make it accessible for challenged athletes. The parking lot will be equipped with handicapped accessible parking.”
Hinkle said the boulder manufacturing company is ENTRE-PRISES USA INC.
“They claim to be the world leader in custom climbing walls and this project is the first of its kind east of the Mississippi,” Hinkle said. “Similar parks are found in Jackson, Wyoming and Moab, Utah.”
Hinkle said the objectives of the Tucker Boulder Park include creating an aesthetically pleasing entrance into Tucker County from Corridor H, sparking revitalization of the Davis Ball Field, providing a public outdoor recreation venue for visitors and residents, creating a trail connector with the Allegheny Highlands Trail and raising awareness and support for Tucker County Emergency Medical Service.
“The purpose of philanthropy is to improve the wellbeing of humankind. Tucker Community Foundation envisioned the park as an opportunity to raise awareness and support for Tucker County EMS, an organization that is directly impacted by the arrival of Corridor H,” Hinkle said. “The impact of the Boulder Park project is significant for Tucker County, the Potomac Highlands Region and all of West Virginia. Following a year when a significant portion of our state was declared a federal disaster because of flooding, it is ever more important for projects like this to thrive. It makes a statement about our own recovery, our potential and the benefit of bringing strong partners to the table. This project fits with Tucker County’s culture of outdoor recreation that is so important to those of us who live here and those who visit.”
The project has captured statewide attention from other foundations and communities who see the value in this type of development projects.
“Personally – as a mother who once spent many hours at the ball field with young children, I know how helpful it can be to have alternate activities for siblings who aren’t playing ball. And now as a grandmother, I look forward to having a safe place for my grandkids to climb.”
Additional information about the Tucker Boulder Park is available on Facebook or online at www.tuckerfoundation.net.