AP NEWS

Cleanup efforts begin at Harris Riverfront Park

March 2, 2018 GMT

HUNTINGTON — Last week, the National Weather Service predicted the Ohio River in Huntington would reach near historic flood levels, but most of the heavy rain passed to the north.

However, several areas of Harris Riverfront Park were still flooded, according to Kevin Brady, executive director of the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District.

“Everything from the floodwall down to the top half of the park is being cleaned up right now,” he said.

Cleanup efforts from the flooding at the park began Wednesday morning and will continue for the next several days, Brady said.

“Three restroom buildings have mud and debris in them, and all the electrical that we have along certain parts of the park was submerged in floodwater,” he said.

“We are in the process of going through it with our staff electrician, making sure it’s cleaned out. Then he goes through a process of spraying it with a contact cleaner and let it evaporate. It dries it all out and also lubricates everything.”

Brady said all the walkways, sidewalks, trash cans and parking lots in the park will also be cleaned.

“The two playgrounds will also be sanitized, disinfected and washed down,” he said. “The floodwater also took about 4 inches of playground mulch away as well that will need replaced.”

Brady said as the water level goes down, cleanup of the lower levels of the park’s riverbank can begin.

“We have a couple of huge piles of debris that will have to be hauled out, and we aren’t sure what else will need to be done until the water level goes down,” he said.

During this time, the park will be closed to the public, according to Huntington communications director Bryan Chambers.

The Cabell-Huntington Health Department will provide a full inspection of the park before it reopens, Chambers added.

“At this time, Harris Riverfront Park is scheduled to reopen Monday, March 12,” he said. “The reopening date is subject to change due to weather and the water level of the Ohio River.”

The property where the park is located is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“It is leased to the city for 99 years, and they contract with the park district to manage and maintain it,” Brady said. “This is the only park we maintain that the city doesn’t own.”

He said future development plans for the park are still in place.

“There are plans for a complete marina down on the east end of the park,” he said. “A boat house has already been brought in for Coast Guard, fire department or police department use, and electricity is down there again.”

Plans for the development at Harris Riverfront Park first started rolling in 2015 when Huntington Mayor Steve Williams announced a partnership with Riverwalk LLC. The plans for the $100 million, three-phase development include a 260-slip marina, dry dock facilities, boardwalk, splash park and more.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.