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Vandals empty water out of slide pool at Putnam water park

By Kara Moore

WINFIELD, W.Va. — A recent act of vandalism at Valley Park pool resulted in a citation from the state Department of Environmental Protection for Putnam County's Parks Department.

Someone emptied the water slide pool, which sits next to the wave pool. The slide pool empties into a pond that happens to be stocked with fish.

"Apparently somebody got inside the fence, and there's a key, like for a water meter, and they knew where the key was and opened up the valve that empties the slide pool," Commissioner Joe Haynes said.

"Well, that's a big influx of chlorine all at once, which kills fish," Haynes said. "So then you had a massive fish kill in the pond, and then DEP gets us for a violation even though it was an act of vandalism."

The citation does not include a fine.

Parks board members believe the culprit was someone with knowledge of the pools, but said parks Director Scott Williamson and the Hurricane Police Department didn't have any suspects that he was aware of.

"But it does sound like it has to be somebody who knew," Haynes said. "You immediately wonder if it was a former or disgruntled employee."

Williamson was in attendance at Tuesday's regular county commission meeting to give a quarterly report on the department's budget and to discuss possible projects in the park to be funded by tax-increment financing.

The commission has asked all the county agencies and departments it funds to present quarterly budget reports in the wake of the financial breakdown at the health department.

Williamson's budget is in the black, and he said that in spite of a slow season at the wave pool, he anticipates finishing the year with a balanced budget.

The county intends to submit an application to the state economic development office for $300,000 in TIF projects at Valley Park.

Most projects of involve the wave pool.

Last year, the county replaced the pumps that make the waves after they broke down mid-season. Now, the pumps that circulate the water are stressed.

The pool basin also needs to be resurfaced. Williamson told the commission that the pool has to be emptied every year for concrete patch work, and it costs $5,000 to refill. If the pool is completely resurfaced, he can keep the water in for up to three years with proper treatment, the interval at which pools are required to replace their water.

Keeping the water in the pool will not only save the county money, it will protect the structural integrity of the pool, Williamson said.

The weight of the water prevents the concrete from warping and cracking with the ground freeze and thaw cycle in the winter.

Other projects include replacing the pool fence, refurbishing the bathhouses, milling paving the road through the park, putting a gazebo in the park and a master plan to guide future development.

Haynes said some ideas on the table for the master plan include more pools and slides, a lazy river and a kids' water area.

"Just other kind of water attractions that would be complimentary to the wave pool," Haynes said.

The pool basin resurfacing project is time-sensitive, as it needs to be done in the fall as soon possible after the pool closes.

The Putnam County Commission meets at 9 a.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the County Courthouse in Winfield. All meetings are open to the public.


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