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Tuscarora park plans proceed

January 24, 2001

Tuscarora park plans proceed



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Officials who want to build a park along the banks of Tuscarora Creek in Berkeley County have taken the first steps toward that goal.

Members of the Tuscarora Creek Linear Park Steering Committee met with the public last week and held a committee meeting this week to discuss how to proceed.

Committee Co-Chair Roger Boyer told members of the public there would be park space on each side of the creek from Poorhouse Road to where it meets Opequon Creek. But that's a goal not likely to be realized, he said.

"That's the vision," Boyer stressed in an interview. "But the steering committee recognizes that is not going to happen."

He and board member Steve Catlett, director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Board, said the committee will adopt a go-slow approach, seeking money where it can be found and working cooperatively with property owners along the creek to create park spaces where they are wanted.

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"In five years, you might see a series of physically disconnected properties, some on one side of the creek, some on the other," Boyer said. "It would be all the same park, just not connected."

"This thing is going to move very slowly," Catlett said. "We're going to pick and choose our areas. It's got a future, but it's going to be a slow development."

The plan is to use properties already in public ownership, such as War Memorial Park and the B&O Railroad property, developing them first.

"That will show people what we can do," Catlett said.

Property owners who have talked to the committee have expressed the same sorts of concerns, centering on security, trespassing, littering and vandalism.

Boyer grew up on a farm with a river running across it and said, "I have real empathy for those concerns."

Jeff Boehm owns property bordering on two sides of War Memorial Park, the site of the first probable development. He will be surrounded on three sides if the park is developed.

"I am in favor of the project because I think everybody should share in the beauty of the creek," he said. "But I don't want anything done that would diminish my enjoyment of it."

Boyer and Catlett stressed they are committed to putting up fences, natural fences such as hedges or other barriers to keep people in the park and off private property.

Boehm, who may be a test case for future dealings between park officials and property owners, said he likes what he's heard so far.

"I think they're going to work cooperatively with us," he said. "I don't sense any adversarial relationship at all."

Boyer stressed the committee has no plans to run over anyone as they try to put together the park parcel by parcel.

"We are not going to, not while I'm on this committee, use (the right of) eminent domain for this," he said.

The first phase will hinge on getting an $80,000 state grant to develop trails. It will require a $20,000 local match, which can come from a fund related to War Memorial Park.

Committee members say they are realistic about their goals, but Boyer said their work should provide a cleaner creek and one that is less prone to flooding.

"If this committee does only that, it will have accomplished something," Catlett said.

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