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Ranson land eyed for new park

February 15, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

RANSON, W.Va. -- "We need to protect this place," said a determined Jimmy Pierson as he stood on a crumbling cattle bridge over Flowing Springs. "Twenty years from now, this will all be surrounded by houses. We need to protect it now."

Pierson, 57, who manages parks for the City of Ranson, has his attention these days focused on nearly 40 acres of what a few decades ago was working farmland pinched between Flowing Springs Road and the new W.Va. 9.  It's bordered on the east by Flowing Springs Road and on the west by the Home Depot store property in The Marketplace at Potomac Towne Center.

Pierson said Ranson wants to create a passive recreation park where visitors could enjoy walking trails and quiet, contemplative areas.

"We want to leave the land as natural as possible," he said.

There won't be any playing fields, but he envisions an observation deck over an old stone barn foundation and well house. It could be used by bird-watchers and those seeking quiet reflection.

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Flowing Springs itself could be turned into a fly-fishing, catch-and-release trout stream, Pierson said.

"I used to fish here myself years ago," he said.

The springs that feed Flowing Springs have their source on the property, said Sarah Kleckner, Ranson's planning director. The stream eventually makes its way to the Shenandoah River at Millville, W.Va., Pierson said.

Land for the park was donated by the owners of Presidents Pointe, a proposed adjacent 1,000-plus-unit development of single-family homes, town houses, condominiums and apartments, Kleckner said.

The developers sliced off about 30 acres from their original 144-acre tract and gave it to Ranson in return for permission to build more homes on the remaining ground, she said.

Charles Town Races & Slots gave the city an additional eight adjoining acres to expand the park's total land to nearly 40 acres, Pierson said.

He estimates it could cost $100,000 to $200,000 to develop the park.

The entrance would be from a small parking lot off Flowing Springs Road, from the Presidents Pointe housing development and from a road off the Home Depot property, he said.

Pierson and Kleckner believe the key to development of the park will be the collaboration of many organizations, including conservation, school and 4-H groups, and state agencies.

Already expressing interest are the Potomac Audubon Society, which wants to protect the park's bird habitat, and the West Virginia Department of Forestry's CommuniTree program, which promotes urban tree plantings and public education.

The park is the first CommuniTree project this year.

An informational meeting on CommuniTree's role in the development of the park will be Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ranson Parks and Recreation Center behind the The Marketplace at Potomac Towne Center.

"We need to get everybody involved in this," Pierson said.

"The city looks forward to working with various agencies to make the park a success," Kleckner said.

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