Voters will see recreation levy in May 11 primary

February 06, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Commission on Thursday approved adding a proposed recreation department levy to the May 11 primary election ballot after Parks & Recreation officials allocated more money toward improving park facilities and less toward operating costs.

Voters will decide whether they want to pay an additional tax that, officials with Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation said, will help with the upkeep and expansion of county facilities.

The levy, expected to generate around $312,000 a year, would take effect on July 1, 2005, and would remain in place for four years.


Of the $312,000 raised, each year $217,000 would be used to expand, improve and develop parks and recreational facilities. The remaining $95,000 would be used for operating expenses, including maintenance of existing and additional facilities, such as buying supplies or paying for necessary services, according to information about the proposed levy provided to commissioners.

Under a previous proposal, Parks & Recreation officials said half of the levy money would be used for operating expenses. Thursday morning, before voting 2-0 to allow the levy to be placed on the ballot, Commissioners Steve Teufel and Howard Strauss said they were pleased by the more than 2:1 spending ratio.

Commissioner John Wright did not attend the meeting.

Parks & Recreation officials oversee all the county's parks, along with two pools, soccer fields, basketball courts, an outdoor miniature golf course, tennis courts, playgrounds, softball fields, an indoor public gymnasium and other facilities.

Parks & Recreation Director Steve Catlett has said plans for the money could include adding more soccer fields to the county's soccer complex and making improvements to Poor House Farm, a park.

Three regulation-sized soccer fields are in place at the complex in Falling Waters, W.Va., but acreage exists for six, Catlett said. Adding outdoor lights, which would allow for nighttime games, also is a possibility.

At Poor House Farm, possibilities include building an outdoor basketball complex, continuing with restoration of a historic barn, adding an amphitheater and putting in a sand volleyball court.

Building a softball field complex somewhere in the county also is possible, Catlett said.

No new indoor facilities are in the works, but Catlett said an addition could be built onto the Berkeley 2000 facility - a gymnasium that is open to the public.

Other ideas, according to a five-page "Park Needs Assessment," include replacing the concession stand and building a new basketball court at War Memorial Park in Martinsburg; replacing the backstop at the Roush Field baseball diamond in Martinsburg; and building Little League and Senior League baseball fields and creating walking trails at Rooney Park in Tomahawk, W.Va.

Sixty percent of the county's voters must vote for the levy for it to go into effect.

If the levy is passed, owners of a home worth $100,000 would pay $6 a year. The owners of a home valued at $200,000 would pay $12 a year.

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