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MADISON, W.Va. — An outdoor fitness park project is in motion for the Madison area and could see a groundbreaking as early as the summer of 2022.

During a Boone County Commission meeting Dec. 28, resident Nick Dolan offered commissioners a presentation for the initiative, which would be supported through grant funding.

The Marshall University medical student is spearheading the project himself and only needed a letter of support from the commission to take the next step in the application process.

A member of Marshall University’s Men’s Health Organization, Dolan said that the organization looks for projects like this in the community, and Boone County fits that bill.

“I’ve had this idea for an outdoor fitness center,” he said. “I saw one in Charlotte right in the heart of the city, and a ton of people used it. So, I started getting quotes for it, and I’m in the early stages of it.

“I think we generally know why it is needed with a lack of recreational activity, obesity, diabetes and several other chronic diseases with high substance abuse rates in the area and a need for activity for all age groups.”

The hydraulic exercise equipment is designed for ages 16 to 65.

Dolan has reached out to the Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health regarding the potential for additional funding for the project.

“Why I’m here is I need help because I’m only 23,” he said with a laugh. “I need help with getting a location.”

Dolan said that he had scoped out potential plots that could be used for a 1,500-square-foot concrete pad to house the park that included Madison City Park and four locations in downtown Madison.

Commissioners expressed that Dolan would need to attend a City of Madison council meeting and offer his presentation to Mayor Buddy Hudson and the council.

Dolan had secured a graphic designer to construct digital plans and mapping for the project, which he shared with commissioners.

The park would feature stations designed for each muscle group including chest press, shoulder press and tricep push-downs, among others.

“What you (as a commission) can do to help is to help me find the property and committing to the continued maintenance after the project,” he said.

Dolan added that liability insurance for the park would need to be included under the umbrella of the county’s policy for other properties owned by the county.

“I understand that some of this will be town-level stuff, but I just wanted it to be known,” he said. “Mayor Mark McClure of the Town of Danville has already written me a letter of support. He was the first one to come in.”

Dolan added that he will write maintenance costs into the budget for the project that can cover up to 10 years of maintenance-related costs.

“You’re 23 years old and already thinking outside the box, and that is what we’ve got to have,” said Commission President Craig Bratcher. “We need people like you pushing for good things, and we appreciate you and all of your efforts to make this project happen.”

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at 304-307-2401.

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