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Martinsburg announced new gym for Lambert Park

September 02, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Martinsburg City Council approved the final piece of funding Thursday for a new community gymnasium in town.

The city will contribute $25,000 toward a $300,000 gym project at the city's Lambert Park.

"Voting against this thing would be like voting against motherhood and apple pie," City Councilman George Karos said.

Earlier in the day at a meeting in Shepherdstown, West Virginia Gov. Cecil Underwood announced he would give the project $75,000 from his contingency fund.

The $100,000 in city and state funds, along with $50,000 from the state Legislative Budget Digest, will be used to draw $147,000 in matching funds from the Berkeley 2000 Foundation, state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, said.

Plans call for a 7,500-square-foot gymnasium that will be the equivalent size of a small high school gym, Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Executive Director Steve Catlett said.

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"Other than rain, I can't think of anything more in need here than a gymnasium," Catlett said.

The Parks and Recreation Department already uses Berkeley County school gyms for after-school, weekend and summer programs, but the demand far outweighs the available space, Catlett said.

"We need two or three gyms, but this is a good start," he said.

The new gym will allow 24-hour usage and can accommodate children, senior citizens and people who work afternoon and night shifts, Catlett said.

The gym will be built using a steel frame that could be expanded to add more space in the future and possibly an indoor track, Catlett said.

Contractor estimates 18 months ago placed the cost of a gym at between $180,000 and $325,000. Catlett said he is confident the project can be built within the $300,000 budget.

"If the bids go too high, we'll either scale down the project or seek more money," Catlett said.

One possibility being considered is using the new gym to house administrative offices for the Parks and Recreation Department.

The department rents office space for $500 per month, and moving the offices could offset some of the expected $1,000 in monthly utility bills at the new gym, Catlett said.

With the funding in hand, Catlett said his department can begin finalizing design plans and bids for the project. The three-month construction job could begin as early as this winter, he said.

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