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Jefferson Co. community center proposed

March 12, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Saying children are being turned away from recreational programs in Jefferson County because of a lack of space for activities, county parks officials asked the County Commission on Thursday for $2.2 million to build a new community center.

Members of the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission want to build the 16,940-square-foot community center at Sam Michaels Park, off Job Corps Road about three miles north of Charles Town.

The center would consist of a 50- by 94-foot gym with bleacher seating for about 750 people, according to a proposal given to the County Commissioners Thursday afternoon.

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The center would have an arts and crafts classroom, 1,000 square feet of office space, storage areas and a kitchen that could be used to cater large events, the proposal said.

A second floor in the building would include an unfinished area for future uses, such as a weight room and personal fitness area, according to the proposal.

The County Parks and Recreation Commission does not have indoor facilities for its programs, meaning the agency must rent space from area businesses and organizations, the proposal said.

Gymnastics classes offered by the parks and recreation department are popular, and some parents are forced to take their children to other nearby cities for gymnastics because of limited class space, said Parks and Recreation Commission Director Tim Barr.

"They're turning them away every day. Classes are full," said Parks and Recreation Commission member Richard Childs.

Barr said curtains would be used inside the center to separate classes, which could include gymnastics, arts and crafts, dance, fitness, cooking, sports camps, art camps, indoor soccer leagues, wrestling camps and others.

If the center is built, parks officials predict they could increase their number of programs they offer from 142 to 700.

The commissioners, who are hearing funding requests as part of their budget process, did not take action on the request. They believe they will have about $12 million to dole out, although they have already received $18.5 million in requests.

County Commissioner Rusty Morgan called the community center proposal "incredibly ambitious."

"This county has never seen anything like this. It's going to be an enormous draw," said Parks and Recreation Commission member Mike Jacobs.

Parks and recreation officials are modeling the facility after a successful community center next to Lambert Park in Martinsburg. That community center is 17,000 square feet and in fiscal year 2002-03 it generated $130,000 in revenue, parks officials said.

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