Public discovering Fenton Park

WILLIAMSTOWN-Once an overgrown field located between the railroad tracks and what is now West Virginia Route 14, Fenton Park is Williamstown’s newest recreational park.

“Tomlinson Park is the town’s showpiece, but I think the use of this little park is taking off,” said Williamstown Councilman Marty Seufer.

He noted the paved quarter-mile trail that meanders around Fenton Park seems to be a favorite of folks with disabilities.

“A handicapped lady recently told council the park was a place where she could walk. The trail is flat and you can take your time and don’t feel like you’re competing with someone else,” Seufer said.

Ron Tepley, 83, of Parkersburg, was making his way around the Fenton Park trail Wednesday morning.

“My legs aren’t what they used to be, but I try to walk six days a week, and I make use of this park,” he said. “Sometimes I walk at the mall, but this is a little different. And I can park right here.”

Tepley noted the park also has picnic tables and a water fountain.

“But the one thing that would be nice to have here is a restroom,” he said.

Restroom facilities are not likely to be installed there anytime soon as funding for the property is limited.

“There’s no set budget for the park. Funding for both city parks comes out of our hotel/motel tax, so I don’t see any major updates coming at this time for Fenton Park,” Seufer said. “It was originally designed to be a trailhead that would link to other regional trails. We do want to eventually provide a link to the (River Trail) across the Williamstown Bridge in Marietta.”

He said the city is installing new sidewalks, and a walkway that would run from Fenton Park to the Williamstown Bridge could be a possibility.

Dick Maidens, 69, of Williamstown helps maintain the park during the summer season.

“I try to keep the flower beds weeded and watered,” he said. “It’s a nice little park, but I don’t think it gets as much use as it could.”

A retired glassblower, Maidens was employed at Fenton Art Glass Company for which the park is named.

“Frank Fenton donated the property to the city several years ago,” he said.

Fenton contributed most of the land on which the park is located in 2002. Work on clearing the property and constructing the park began in 2005 and was finally completed in 2010.

Seufer noted a portion of the property on the railroad side of the park is leased from CSX Transportation.

He said the city maintains and operates the park, and if it ever ceases to use the property as a community park it would revert back to the Fenton family’s ownership.