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Old Martin's could become youth center

September 11, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A local group aimed at helping young people make positive choices plans to turn the former Martin's Food Market storefront on Raleigh Street into a youth center, Martinsburg City Council members were told Thursday night.

Martinsburg resident Dean DeSana, representing Give Them Heaven Ministries in Martinsburg, said the nondenominational group has a lease option until 2010 on the building with owner Giant Foods.

The group went to the city's Planning Commission on Wednesday to request the necessary zoning change for the building, said DeSana, 34.

Plans for the youth center include a game room, a basketball court and meeting rooms that can be used for free by community groups and the city, he said.

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"It's a very big building with lots of potential for lots of things," DeSana said.

The point of the project is to give young people options for occupying their time after school and on weekends, he said.

Learning from the bad choices he made in his own life, DeSana said he now speaks about the importance of positive decisions at schools and churches.

The hope is to have the youth center running by November or December at the latest, with work getting started as soon as the Planning Commission gives the OK, he said.

Meanwhile, DeSana said he plans to talk to neighbors about the plans, which he's sure will face opposition.

He said his intention is to help improve the neighborhood. He'd also like residents' input on what will go in the building and how things will work.

"They have a right to say what they want there. They live there," he said.

It's a good location for a youth center because many children live within walking distance, DeSana said.

Citizens can comment on the request during a public hearing at the next Martinsburg Planning Commission meeting on Oct. 7, said City Planner Michael M. Covell.

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