By EVAN BEVINS, News and Sentinel
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — The City of Parkersburg and Community Resources unveiled a Community Tool Shed on March 31 in an effort to provide residents with equipment to improve their property.
“Think of it like a tool lending library,” said Kayla Morris, community service block grant program director for Community Resources.
The 14-by-30-foot shed is situated on the West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s Little Kanawha Resource Conservation and Development site in the 2300 block of Gihon Road. It’s stocked with mowers, leaf blowers, string trimmers, hedge trimmers, hand tools, a chainsaw, pressure washer and more, according to a release from the city.
Such facilities have been in operation for at least 10 years, mainly originating on the West Coast, Parkersburg Development Director Ryan Barber said in the release.
“To our knowledge, this is the first and only Tool Shed of its kind in the state of West Virginia,” he said.
The city allocated $30,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds for the project several years ago. Mayor Tom Joyce said there was a delay in getting it up and running as the city worked to identify a partner and dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The goal is to encourage residents to maintain their properties and neighborhoods, including helping them address code violations, by providing items with which to do the work.
“Not having access to tools and equipment is no longer a barrier, or the barrier’s been shrunk,” said Joyce, noting the tools could also be used by groups doing neighborhood cleanups.
Morris said some people might not need tools like a chainsaw or leaf blower regularly.
“We are saving households money that they would have spent towards these items,” she said in the release.
The program also gives the city’s Code Enforcement Division a way to work with residents and provide recommendations for actions they can take to improve conditions, rather than issuing citations, the release said.
Parkersburg residents and nonprofit organizations can join the Community Tool Shed for an annual fee, which can vary based on income and other factors. Items can be borrowed for three days and, in some cases, up to seven.
People can contact Community Resources at 304-485-5525 to obtain a membership or email email@example.com. A website for the Tool Shed is being established, Morris said.
The shed will officially open April 11 and is expected to operate through Nov. 30 each year.
Tools for the shed were assembled by clients of Recovery Point Parkersburg, a non-medical residential substance abuse treatment facility. They also landscaped the site and installed the entry ramp on the shed.
“They do amazing work. And they’re fun to work with,” said Melissa Ogden, operations director for Community Resources.
It’s one of multiple projects with which Recovery Point has assisted the agency.
“It helps our residents get in the community and do something positive,” said Robert Diddle, Recovery Point program director. “It’s good for them to be appreciated, to help people.”
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