Commission changes weapons policy at Coonskin Park

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Those with a legal conceal carry permit will be allowed to pack at Coonskin park and an old trail becomes a new attraction in the wake of the airport landslide.

The Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission voted unanimously to change the language of the parks rules on firearms during their regular meeting on Thursday.  Previously, the parks rules called for anybody caught with a gun at Coonskin Park to be charged with a misdemeanor.

“What the commission has done is try to make sure we are more in line with state law,” said Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Hutchinson. “So if a legally conceal carry permit holder is caught with a gun in the park, instead of being charged with a misdemeanor, they’ll be asked to take their gun and leave.”

Hutchinson said the misdemeanor still applies to anyone who does not have a conceal carry permit or anyone openly carrying a firearm.  The matter became an issue when a residents inquired about the matter and asked that signs saying guns were forbidden in the park could be removed.

“It’s something we’ve had our attorneys look at over the last three or four months,” he said. “We waited until after what went on with the Senate Bill about anybody over 21 being allowed to carry concealed without a permit. When the governor vetoed that, we put it back on the agenda.”

The new rule basically allows for conceal carry permit holders to be armed as long as nobody knows they have a gun.

In other business the commission agreed after the fact to allow one trail at Coonskin Park become an emergency access points.  Following the slide at the end of the Yeager Airport runway, Keystone Drive was cut off.  The closing of Keystone left residents on lower Keystone and Upper Barlow drive with only one way in or out and no escape route in the event of an emergency.

“It was a dirt and mud trail.  We didn’t maintain it,” said Hutchinson. “They went in widened the road in a place or two and totally graveled it from the paved end of Barlow Drive clear into Coonskin park.”

The road will only be open in the event of an emergency for ambulance and fire trucks or for residents in those areas to evacuate in the event of a flood. The upside for the park is a mile of improved trail.

“I’ve seen more people using the trail for biking and stuff than I ever have before,” said Hutchinson. “We think it’s a significant improvement to the recreation here at Coonskin Park.”