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Kanawha commission hopes to break ground on sports complex in November

Gazette-Mail file photo

If all goes as planned, the Kanawha County Commission will break ground in November on an estimated $15.2 million multi-sport complex at Shawnee Park in Institute, commissioner Ben Salango announced during a regular meeting Thursday.

Salango said the commission plans to accept bids on the project in September or October. The project will be paid for with a $10 million bond as well as grants and donations. A 501c3 nonprofit has been set up to accept donations for the complex, Salango said.

At its July 6 meeting, the commission announced that testing at the property had revealed there are chemicals in the groundwater and soil gas at the park.

A report from engineering company CH2M Hill shows that 1,2-DCA, 1,4-dioxane and naphthalene were found in the shallow groundwater of the park and 1,4-dioxane was found in the deep groundwater at concentrations greater than screening criteria. Chloroform was also detected in the soil gas, or the vapor in the air spaces between soil particles. Chloroform was not found in the property’s groundwater, the report says.

Commissioners said they expected to find the chemicals and they did not expect them to hinder the sports complex project.

Salango said Thursday that more environmental tests are being done at the park “out of an abundance of caution, but so far everything is looking good.”

The testing included a dye test to ensure the property’s storm water drains, built in the 1930s, still are working properly. The drains are working properly, said Mary Jo Cleland, a project manager and civil engineer with architectural firm ZMM, which designed the project.

Additional testing is being done on the groundwater and soil at the property, Cleland said.

The results of the tests will be evaluated by S&S Engineering before construction on the project begins, commissioners said.

“The commission thinks that the safety is very important and so does ZMM,” Cleland said. “We know that there are some underground issues and we’re making sure that [it’s] safe for children.”

Also Thursday:

n The commission approved a resolution designating Malden a special interest Salt District. The designation goes along with the inaugural BB&T Malden Salt Fest to be held Oct. 6-8 at J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works in Malden. The commission also agreed to put signs up about the salt district.

Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said many people don’t realize that the Kanawha Valley was the largest producer of salt in the United States during the 1800s. The same technology used to dig coal and natural gas was used to drill into an ancient ocean for salt, she said. J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works owners Lewis Payne and Nancy Bruns, a brother-sister team who are descendants of the valley’s original miners, are selling gourmet salt in 500 retail stores and restaurants nationwide, Bailey said, The salt festival will feature a parade, food and music, among other things.

n Commission President Kent Carper said the county has about a “95 percent chance” of getting a $900,000 grant from the Army Corps of Engineers to design a sanitary sewer extension project in the Lens Creek area. Having the project designed will allow the county to apply for a small city block grant to fund the project.

n The commission approved an emergency temporary precinct change for Precincts 223 and 224 from First United Methodist Church to Montrose Elementary for the Oct. 7 election only. Carper said there is an activity planned at the church that required the change.

Reach Lori Kersey at, 304-348-1240 or follow @LorikerseyWV on Twitter.

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