BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — In 2021, the New River Gorge Park and Preserve became a national park.
On Tuesday, November 7, 2023, Raleigh County Commission officially approved Beckley attorney Bill File’s request for the city to annex more than 600 at Piney Creek Gorge Preserve, which is a gateway to the New River Gorge. The city plans to create a network of walking trails on the land, which is integral to a long-term recreational development plan.
“This is part of the development of trails that are being developed out in the Piney Creek Preserve,” File explained, identifying the annexed acreage. “This is property down below Woodcrest in that area, and Stanaford Acres, so the city is very excited to get this. This will allow them to help with the development and help patrol this property.”
Beckley city treasurer Billie Trump said on Thursday, November 9, 2023, that the Piney Creek annex has sparked city officials to again take steps on a long-time concern in the city – closing “donut holes” around city limits.
Donut holes is the name given to areas which are surrounded by the town’s limit, but which are not officially part of the town. Those in donut holes do not receive city services, such as fire and police protection, which means they may wait longer for emergency response from points outside of the city.
They also do not qualify for street paving and snow plowing services by the Beckley Board of Public Works.
City officials have made past efforts to close donut holes, which include places like Stanaford, Skelton, parts of Maxwell Hill Road and Rural Acres Drive, but those efforts have largely fizzled.
Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold said recent changes at a legislative level could make it easier to recruit businesses from donut holes into the city limits. He said there are also benefits for residents to be inside city limits.
“What they pay in their property taxes would pale in comparison if they had to pay somebody to plow their streets, remove their snow, pave their streets,” he explained. “So, it’s a win-win, in my opinion.
“It’s a revolutionary time for the city of Beckley,” Rappold added. “We are not only a gateway city to the newest sixty third designated New River Park and Preserve, we’re not only a gateway city, we’re the hub.”