Green Bank Wellness Group Eyes Potential Site Near School
Green Bank, WV – The group organizing the idea of a wellness center in the Green Bank area has their eye on a possible site near the Green Bank elementary school. Karen O’N eill, Site Director for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank says they looked at three sites in the area.
“The first option is down by the current senior center; that would involve talking to the County Commission about getting the land for it which seems quite feasible,” she says. “The second site would be on NRAO land which is the [Green Bank Elementary Middle] school parking lot. The third site that we thought of is also on NRAO land; the possibility of taking over right next to the swimming pool at the rec area and covering that swimming pool and making that part of the wellness center itself.”
O’Neill says she, like most at the meeting, would favor the site near the school. While the proximity of an existing pool is one consideration, most feel that the location of the rec area is just too far off the main road to be able to generate the amount of use required to justify building the facility there.
The site next to the school however, does show some promise, even if only as a temporary site. O’Neill says she had talked with Ira Brown about using an annex building near the school. Brown had told her he didn’t think it was a feasible option. However, at subsequent meeting with Pocahontas County School Superintendent CC Lester and former Green Bank Principal Ruth Bland, wellness center organizer Rachel Taylor says she got a more encouraging response.
“I had to meet today with Mr. Lester and Mrs. Bland, and they both said absolutely, we can junk some of the stuff that’s in the annex and definitely put something in there temporarily,” says Taylor. “They were both 100% proponents of that.”
O’Neill says they’ve made some preliminary contact with the National Science Foundation, the group that oversees the NRAO, about getting a lease for the land near the school. There’s also a possibility of getting some exercise equipment from the NRAO.
“That is not unreasonable to think about moving a little bit of our equipment,” she says. “I’m reluctant to speak for all of NRAO staff and say we’ll move all of our equipment, but it’s certainly feasible to look into either moving some or taking some money that would normally have gone to buying new equipment for this year’s round and buying it for there instead or something.”
In the meantime, there are other issues to work out like applying for non-profit status, looking for construction grants and meeting with the county Board of Education to make sure they’re on board with the school location. Sue Ann Heatherly points out this is a long process that will probably take several stages to complete.
“It’s going to take a while, let’s not kid ourselves right; I mean it’s going to take years, maybe a decade, maybe five years,” she says. “It’s going to take some years to build exactly what we want. If there was something called the Green Bank Wellness Center and it had 501c designation, then we could have all these pieces we’re trying to consolidate in our best, most beautiful facility.”
Taylor says she will speak to the BOE about using the school site in February.