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Bridge could open path for new Martinsburg park

September 21, 2000

Bridge could open path for new Martinsburg park



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Those who want to build a park along Tuscarora Creek are taking their first step toward that goal.

A Boy Scout group has offered to build a bridge across the creek at Norwalk Pavilion in War Memorial Park.

The bridge will need approval from the Martinsburg Planning Commission. If the commissioners agree, the bridge could serve as the first visible sign that a park is possible, say those promoting the idea.

"This would be like a demonstration project to show the community as a whole that this can work," said Gordon Claucherty, a member of the Tuscarora Creek Linear Park Steering Committee.

The group has been meeting since February to reinvigorate an idea to develop land along the 10-mile creek that runs from near Poor House Farm Park into Opequon Creek east of Martinsburg, said Steve Catlett, director of the Martinsburg/Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Department.

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Initial development could be in or near the four public parks through which the creek runs, he said.

"This will set the tone, so to speak, for what we're trying to do," said Catlett, who also serves on the committee. "Private owners could see what we're trying to do and it might make them more likely to lease, sell or expose their property if they can see a piece of property developed well and made accessible."

The proposed bridge would be for pedestrians and would provide access to public land on the north side of the creek. The city owns land on the creek's north side back to its source at Kilmer Springs.

City officials want to discuss public access along that path before they allow it. Initially, a small picnic area might be set up at the north end of the bridge.

City Councilman Glenville Twigg wants the committee, the City Council and the board of directors of the Parks and Recreation Commission to meet soon to discuss what to do next. Catlett favors a meeting because the idea of park development is at a crossroads.

"We need to decide if we're going to put the financial resources into this and move ahead or if the committee will keep planning and be put on hold," Catlett said.

A key issue is maintenance. Volunteers often can be found to build a project, but it falls to public agencies such as the city to maintain what has been built, Catlett said. Cleaning an area, trimming the brush, mowing grass and making it secure involve costs that someone must pay.

Twigg, also a member of the creek committee, said he thinks the money will be found and the idea will move ahead. He thinks the bridge should be built, then officials should find the money to develop the park further.

"We need to zero in on this," he said. "If we're going to build the park, we need to maintain it. We're going to have to come up with an answer and I think we will.

"We need to decide once and for all what direction we're going in," he said. "It would be a shame not to build it because we can't come up with a couple of people to maintain it."

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