Members of the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission are considering transferring ownership and/or management of Shawnee Park in Institute.
If commission members feel a transfer is necessary, the city of Dunbar or West Virginia State University could take over operations.
The issue was discussed at length at the commission's monthly meeting on Thursday.
Nothing is set in stone, as the commission is only in the early stages of exploring its options.
"I view this as who's the better entity to manage the park," Commission President Anna Dailey said.
The city of Dunbar already operates the Shawnee Park pool, a role that city has had for the last two seasons, Parks Director Jeff Hutchinson said. Before that, West Virginia State operated the pool for four years.
The park also has a nine-hole golf course.
Retired Adj. Gen. Allen Tackett, who is a member of the parks commission, said he wanted the commission to ask representatives from West Virginia State and/or Dunbar to attend a future commission meeting to talk about the issue.
"We need to make a recommendation and take it to the county commission," he said.
Dunbar Mayor Terry Greenlee confirmed later Thursday the city is interested in taking over control of the park, something he thinks would be beneficial for residents.
"I'm interested in the whole park," he said. "I think we can make a really nice facility down there."
Greenlee said he has made the city's opinon known to the parks commission, and the city is just waiting on word from the parks commission and the Kanawha County Commission before moving forward with the process. He said the city has had a positive experience running the pool.
"The attendance has really started to build," he said.
Greenlee also said he has been approached by different residents about opportunities at the park, including an entrepreneur who wanted to open a restaurant at the clubhouse. However, he said, the city has no power to do anything in that regard unless the park becomes owned by the city.
Shawnee Park is separated from Dunbar's current city limits by only a few blocks of homes and businesses.
In April, a group of citizens petitioned Dunbar's city council to annex much of the area immediately west of the city, including West Virginia State, the community of Institute and Shawnee Park. Others were staunchly opposed and the annexation was canceled in August.
If the park goes to Dunbar, Greenlee said the area between the park and the current city limits will not be considered for annexation again.
"There's a lot of options on the table," he said. "We're in the waiting game."
On the western side of the park, West Virginia State could also be a new owner for Shawnee. It, too, is separated from the bulk of the park by a few blocks of homes.
Dailey said the university is interested in operating the park, a statement confirmed by County Commissioner Hoppy Shores, who also sits on the parks commission.
West Virginia State Vice President for University Relations & Operations Kimberly Osborne said the school isn't ruling out a transfer, but has not yet taken a position on the matter.
"Throughout its history, West Virginia State University has been committed to serving as a strong community partner," Osborne said in an emailed statement. "The proximity of Shawnee Park would complement the various ongoing campus community efforts and the University is interested in exploring potential partnership opportunities. However, it is premature to discuss at the present time."
West Virginia State had made offers to take over management of the park in the past, including in 2006 and 2007.
The parks commission took no formal action on the park's future, saving a decision for future meetings.Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Mur...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817.