City Plans to Turn Drillers RV Park Into Recreation Area

Mayor Michael Gracik said having natural gas industry workers hook up their RVs at the field that once hosted football games for Bishop Donahue High School and the former Union High School presents the city a great opportunity.

Once the drilling, fracking, pipelining and processing boom concludes, the outgoing mayor hopes the city will turn the site into a recreation area.

“If we can rent it out for four or five years, we will have plenty of money for the recreation area,” Gracik said. “That is a nice area down close to the (Ohio) River.”

Gracik said city officials started the RV campground about two years ago when demand for natural gas industry workers began growing. There are now 12 RVs in place at the campground, with places reserved for three additional units.

Gracik and City Attorney Brett Ferro said the city can expand the park to hold 24 RVs with only a little extra work.

The McMechen campground is one of dozens now scattered across Marshall County, which is central in the Marcellus and Utica shale rush.

In a typical campground, the pipeliners or drillers bring their own RVs in which to live while they are working in the shale regions.

Any property owner can seek a permit to run such a campground, according to Marshall County Health Department Administrator Ronda Francis.

In addition to Marshall County, RV campgrounds are now commonplace in Ohio County and Belmont County, as workers who drill wells and install pipelines need a place to stay on a temporary basis while completing their jobs.

Although he knows some local residents may be concerned about having strangers live in the campground, Gracik said there have been virtually no complaints.

“There is no trouble at all down there,” he said. “In fact, that is one of the most quiet places around the city.”