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Project strives to create year-round pool complex

June 11, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

by RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

enlargement

War Memorial Pool

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Martinsburg High School swim team may not have to haul swimsuits, towels and equipment to Hagerstown for practice if $1 million is raised for an all-weather cover for the pools at War Memorial Park.

"As soon as that dome is ready, we'll be there," said Martinsburg High School Principal Rick Deuell.

A grand opening for the War Memorial Aquatic Center had been scheduled for July 4. Because of favorable weather conditions, however, the two pools could open up to a week early, said Steve Catlett, director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Board.

"We're progressing more rapidly than expected," Catlett said.

The board spent a substantial amount of time upgrading War Memorial Park in the last 10 years. The $1 million pools are the final phase.

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But Catlett envisions a facility open year-round. He hopes to get donations from businesses and area residents for the $1 million cover by 2000, with construction complete by 2001. So far, about $200,000 has been contributed.

"It would be a facility not just for Berkeley County, but for Morgan and Jefferson counties as well," Catlett said.

The dome would enable the swim teams from Hedgesville and Martinsburg high schools to practice in their own county. Hedgesville High's 25 swimmers currently practice at Shepherd College in Jefferson County, while Martinsburg's team practices at the Hagerstown YMCA.

"Our season actually runs from Nov. 1 until the end of February. Until it becomes an indoor pool, the schools can't really take advantage of it," said Don Dellinger, athletic director at Hedgesville High School.

The covering would be made of corrosive-free aluminum and fiberglass, Catlett said. A sun deck facing Tennessee Avenue would appease summer sunbathers, who also can catch some rays through a sliding roof.

"You get a rainy day, you just pop the button and it closes off and you're back in business," Catlett said.

A $1 million competitive lap pool and a therapeutic pool are nearly completed. Swim teams or athletes can practice in one, while the other is for general use.

The pool opened in the 1920s, Catlett said. It was the biggest in the area at the time, billed as a state-of-the-art facility.

"But they don't build them to last 70 years," Catlett said. "Some days we would lose up to three inches of water from leakage in the pipes."

The pool closed after the 1994 season.

"It was really kind of an embarrassment to the city and the park system, the way the facility had deteriorated," Catlett said.

Both pools have separate filtration systems and heaters to regulate temperature individually. Bathrooms, a lobby, lockers and shower rooms are part of the package, as is a unisex dressing room for people with disabilities who need help getting into their swimsuits or parents with young children of the opposite sex.

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