Grand Vue Park will be observing its 40th anniversary on April 27 with an Open House from 1-5 p.m.
The park, which was dedicated in May 1974, has undergone numerous changes since that time with new attractions including adventure facilities - a Zip Line and bicycle trails - and in keeping up with the times, Internet capability.
Many of these changes have taken place in the past decade.
The park has gone through both good and bad times, but with a funding commitment by the Marshall County commissioners some 12 years ago, and becoming more involved in attracting patrons through tourism, the number of visitors has been on the increase since that time.
As to the park, it came about through the passage of House Bill No. 532 by the state Legislature on Feb. 19, 1965, authorizing establishment of a park and recreation board in Marshall County. In August of that year the Marshall County Commission created the Marshall County Park and Recreation Board, a public corporation that had the authority to develop, manage and control park and recreation areas in the county. Appointed to serve as members were Norman Buzzard, Gene Fish, G. Charles Hughes, Clarence Baxter and Don VanCamp. Earl Gaylor Associates of Wheeling was hired as consultant to develop a county park with a wide variety of recreational activities.
According to some early records, plans were being formulated for the park in 1968. With the financial assistance of the county commission and support from then-Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr., funds were obtained from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Appalachian Regional Commission to develop this area. A contest was held to name the park facility and the name Grand Vue Park was selected.
Prior to the the selection of the site and the actual dedication, new board members had taken over. They included Chairman Dudley Beck, Secretary-Treasurer Gene Fish, and James Stultz, Don Riedel and Ed Monroe.
It was noted in the 1984 annual report by President Brent D. Robinson that Grand Vue had grown tremendously in 10 years to become what he said was a "widely proclaimed facility" available 365 days each year. He said, "Few agencies serve such a diverse contingent of patrons."
"Accounting for this success is the commitment of the Marshall County Commission, the interest of the Board, and the dedication of the staff, the assistance of other agencies, sponsorships and donations from many businesses and above all patronage."
Robinson concluded, "We hope for your continued support, and pledge our efforts to continue providing the degree of excellence in leisure service opportunities that improve the quality of life of the Marshall County Citizens."
The board in addition to Robinson in 1964 was comprised of Fish, Monroe, Vice President Richard N. Drake and George T. Sidiropolis. The members of county commissioner were President Richard B. Ward, Donald Krupica and Howard L. Byard. The commissioners on May 15 approved a proclamation designating May 20-27 as Grand Vue Park Week in recognition of a decade of growth, development and service to this recreation area, and in anticipation of its continued opportunities for the citizens.
The park originally consisted of 126 acres of facilities, including a par 3 golf course and clubhouse, a swimming pool and bathhouse, two group picnic shelters and 26 picnic sites, an outdoor theater, a tennis center, a red barn play area, and support parking and roadways.
During the first 10 years, the park was expanded to more than 650 acres and added new attractions, such as a sonic chute water coaster, family picnic shelters, a miniature golf course, driving range, bumper boats, cross country skiing, hiking trails, game field, fitness court and vacation cabins.
The board participated with agencies such as the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce and the Upper Ohio Valley Travel Council to promote Marshall County as not only a tourist visitation site, but also as a place to live, work and play.
By the way, the budget for the yearly operation of the park by 1984 was $518,941.
The funds to meet the budget consisted of $265,779 from fees and interest from investments. This amount represented 51.5 percent of the budget, while the County Commission's allocation was $250,000 or 48 percent. The other 0.5 percent, or $3,162, came from trust fund donations.
It is somewhat ironic that the original traditional cabins have been completely renovated in the past year, which has included adding modern conveniences.
In 2002, members of Marshall County Commission decided they needed to increase funding to the park. If not, it might be necessary to close the facility. Architectural and engineering firms were hired in 2003 to develop a 10-year master plan from which an outline for possible projects and ways to improve operations were to be developed.
The plan was in place by April 2005, at which time bulldozers were clearing a piece of land at the park in order to construct three new cabins. At that time plans were in place to construct a banquet hall/office complex. These two projects were funded primarily from a state economic development grant of $2.16 million.
Other plans at that time were to tear out the old tennis courts, construct a tasteful miniature golf course, and make improvements to the pool area (an aquatic complex). These were projected as a $600,000 undertaking.
Commissioner Don Mason said in 2005, "We're just looking to get the park turned over from something that's going downhill." Last week he told me, "I'm very pleased with the park, and I'm glad the county commission has had money to return Grand Vue Park to a facility of which everyone in the county can be proud."
Mason said also said this past week the commission would be working to establish a foundation which will hopefully generate funding for the park's operation.
Next week in this column I will be providing an update on the recent changes at the park, and plans for the future.
This past week, the kickoff of Operation Pride took place. Of course, this is an event aimed at reminding county residents of the need to clean up and fix up their property.
The Marshall County Commission and the Marshall County Solid Waste Authority provide free dumpsters in conjunction with this effort.
This is the 41st year for Operation Pride.
On Saturday the annual Household Hazardous Waste Cleanup will be held from 9 a.m. until noon at the east parking lot of Bayer Material Science on W.Va. 2. Residents of Marshall, Wetzel, Tyler and Monroe counties are invited to bring latex and oil-based paints (including lead containing paints, used motor oil, oil filters, antifreeze, transmission fluid, aerosol cans, automobile batteries, tires and pesticides for disposal.