Grafton City Council has committed to improve the appearance of the city by demolishing condemned and abandoned residential structures throughout the city. This initiative will help stabilize property values while making neighborhoods more attractive for those looking to relocate to Grafton. During 2017 the city demolished over 50 condemned structures throughout the city while targeting many other properties for 2018. It is the goal and desire of the City of Grafton to finally remove the problem of blighted condemned structures in our community.
During 2017 the city replaced over 1,000 linear feet of new sidewalk on West Main Street. Plans are to construct new sidewalks to the intersection of West Main Street and Leonard Street before moving to other areas of the city.
The city is also working on finishing Phase III of the Main Street Streetscape Project by applying for funding from the West Virginia Department of Highways through Transportation Enhancement Funds.
Recently the city completed Phase I of a multi-phase project to rehabilitate Central Playground. Central Playground was once the site of Taylor County’s first high school. The structure was demolished many decades ago and converted into a local playground for the community. Improvements had not been completed on this park since it was first developed. During Phase I, the city installed a new playground play-set, fencing, resurfaced the basketball courts, new backboards, rims, and nets, along with new fencing around a portion of perimeter.
Plans for Phase II include landscaping, signage, and the construction of a small pavilion.
The City Council has also procured the services of Thrasher Engineering in developing a “New Maple Avenue Playground” that will serve as a focal point for families in the community for many years. Preliminary ideas include a splash pad, 3 picnic pavilions, construction of a 60 +/- spaces parking lot, kayak/canoe launching dock, playground, concession/bathrooms, walking trail, and the construction of 2 basketball courts. This is a multi-phase project that will take many years and depends upon receiving state and federal grants.
In February 2018, the Grafton City Council and the Taylor County Commission agreed to purchase “touch pad timers” for the Grafton Swim Team. The Grafton Swim Team is one of the most competitive summer swim teams in North Central West Virginia with huge support from parents, coaches, volunteers, the City of Grafton and the Taylor County Commission. The city is a proud yearly sponsor of this sport for the youth of our community.
The Grafton City Council is in the final steps in developing the Rear Admiral Fredrick Burdett Warder Memorial near the bridge that was named in his honor in Historic Downtown Grafton. Mr. Warder is widely known as the most decorated veteran ever born and lived in Grafton whose exploits in World War II won him a Navy Cross. As a lieutenant commander, he was skipper of the Seawolf from 1939 to 1943. The submarine resupplied the besieged island fortress of Corregidor in the Philippines in spring 1942 and sank a Japanese destroyer, cruiser, transport ship and several other vessels on seven missions in the following months.
The 38-year-old officer was awarded the Navy Cross, one of the service’s highest honors, for his work. The citation noted that, after firing its torpedoes, the Seawolf was often the target of prolonged depth-charge attacks by Japanese destroyers.
But Lieutenant Commander Warder kept a veneer of calm for his men and brought the Seawolf home unscathed each time. Soon, he learned that his crew and sailors from other ships were calling him Fearless Freddie, though never within his earshot.
The nickname actually had its genesis just before Pearl Harbor, when several Seawolf sailors over-imbibed one night and gave the Shore Patrol that name for their commanding officer. Promoted to commander, he was in charge of several submarines operating in the Mariana Islands. In addition to the Navy Cross, his wartime decorations included a Bronze Star, Legion of Merit and several other medals. Frederick Burdett Warder was born on March 19, 1904, in Grafton, W. Va., and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1925. He earned a master’s degree in science from the University of California at Berkeley and held several submarine posts before World War II.
He was promoted to captain and, from 1944 to 1946, headed the Navy’s submarine school at New London, Conn. After several other assignments, he became a rear admiral in 1952. From 1957 to 1960, he was commander of the Atlantic submarine force; his flagship was a nuclear submarine bearing the name of his World War II craft, the Seawolf.
In 1960, he became commandant of the Eighth Naval District, with headquarters in New Orleans. He retired in 1962.
In 2017, the Grafton City Council acquired the Historic B&O Freight Station from CSX Inc. The freight station remains the oldest original railroad structure in Taylor County built approximately 1885(?). Currently the city is working closely with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and Environmental Standards to properly address any environmental concerns with the site. No concerns where found after extensive environmental testing and the city expects to begin development of the structure and grounds for a permanent location of the Grafton Farmer’s Market.