CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – What many Charleston-area residents know as the historic Coonskin Park could become covered by hundreds of feet of dirt. That is, if West Virginia International Yeager Airport decides to approve the proposed Airfield, Safety, and Terminal Improvement project from last fall.
Yeager airport’s runway is currently 6,700 feet long, and the proposed project would expand the runway through the Coonskin Park. Phase One would extend the runway to 7,000 feet, and Phase Two would extend the runway to 8,000 feet.
However, many Charleston area residents have memories dating back decades of the Coonskin Park and do not want to see a portion of the park covered.
That’s where the Facebook Group “Save Coonskin Park!” comes in. They created a website and a petition to protect the park and wildlife living in it. The petition currently has nearly 1,600 signatures.
“This park was built by the citizens of Charleston in the 1940s for the citizens of Charleston and Kanawha County, and so the thought now of the majority of the park being destroyed, I think everybody is just urgently ‘what can we do?’ and I think that’s where we all are,” said ‘Save Coonskin Park’ organizer Jeremy Severn.
Severn created the website SaveCoonskinPark.com to raise awareness of the group’s efforts.
“We need as many people on that petition as possible. Just to show the people making these decisions that we care about our park. It is the public opinion of Charleston and Kanawha County that we do not want to see Coonskin destroyed,” Severn said.
‘Save Coonskin Park’ partnered with West Virginia Rivers to create the original petition around two months ago.
“The more names and information on that petition, the better for us. The 4600 [people] on our Facebook group is great. The 1600 on our petition is great. We would love to see that number continue to climb,” Severn said.
Severn said their goal is to preserve the park and the memories it holds. He also said it’s important that people know they can still make a difference and protect the park from Yeager’s potential runway expansion.
“We need people to know this project is not a done deal. That is the most important thing that people need to understand. It is at this point a proposal from Yeager airport to the Federal Aviation Administration asking for funds to complete a project. It is not a done deal,” Severn said.
Yeager Airport released a statement this afternoon saying that the proposed project is “in the early stages of planning with the Federal Aviation Administration.” They said it is too early for them to comment on specific details because plans have not been finalized.
The Kanawha County Park Commission’s next meeting is at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17.
There will be an in-person event in the upper area of Coonskin Park on Sunday, June 11 that ‘Safe Coonskin Park’ will be hosting.