Assessment and planning
Active SWV prioritizes partnerships to increase safe places for physical activity. The City of Beckley has participated in the Active SWV Bike/Walk – Bicycle, Pedestrian Action Committee since 2016 assessing walkability of Beckley. Over the years many individuals have contributed to trails, sidewalks, and bus routes to increase transportation options.
Gary Morefield with the City of Beckley Public Works has built over 10 miles of trails in the Grey Flats area of the Piney Creek Gorge located at the YMCA Soccer Complex. See regional trail resources here.
Corey Lilly, formally with Piney Creek Watershed Association and now the Office of Outdoor Recreation and Economic Development, has taken the planning to a higher level by engaging planners and engineers for a comprehensive recreation plan for the City of Beckley.
Pictured above, Gary Morefield and friends, making a dream a reality for the people of Beckley. While the city boarders the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, there are few access points from the main terminus. The Piney Creek and Cranberry Creek gorges extend into Beckley communities to be access points to launch into what could be a vast trail system.
The 2022 and 2023 Building Resiliency and Inclusive Communities (BRIC) grants awarded through Active SWV have provided the City of Beckley with funds to use for residential recreation improvements.
2022 BRIC project included:
- Benches, tables, signage on the McManus Trail
- Trail counter equipment for tracking trail usage
- Bicycle racks, trash cans, cross walk tape, outdoor lighting
- A comprehensive plan to guide investments in outdoor recreation
- A second trail counter
- Investment in trail planning education
The bigger vision
With the recent announcement of West Virginia University Institute of Technology expanding the Paul Cline Memorial Soccer Field adding a football field, baseball, softball, and added security, there is also room to transition green space into multi-generational mixed activity use and blend the sports complex into the greater boundary of trails for hikers, runners, bikers, and climbers.
“Now, more than ever, people are seeking public lands and outdoor recreation close to home. The New River Gorge National Park designation and the effects of COVID have created an unprecedented opportunity to capitalize on outdoor spaces as a means for quality-of-life improvements and economic development. COVID has revealed how important it is to have outdoor spaces for a healthy lifestyle. Historically, the people of Beckley have not had an area within the city limits to experience nature through mountain biking, hiking, climbing, fishing, or hunting.
We aim to change that by partnering with the West Virginia Land Trust to create the Piney Creek Adventure Preserve, which offers many of the same outdoor recreation experiences found in the New River Gorge National Park but close to home and in a space where programming and outdoor learning opportunities can more readily occur. The Piney Creek Adventure Preserve will be accessible from the inner-city rail trail, free to use, and offer a wide range of high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities. When this project is complete, Beckley will be one of the only cities across the US where this type collection of high-quality outdoor activities exists so close to a city center. The Piney Creek Adventure Preserve is Beckley’s sustainable competitive advantage to attract and retain talent who prioritizes the outdoors as part of their lifestyle. ” -Corey Lilly