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Park transfer idea put on hold in Shepherdstown

July 26, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Parks officials in Jefferson County have decided not to take any immediate action on a controversial proposal to turn ownership of Morgan's Grove Park over to the county.

Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Bill Hoak planned to bring the proposal before the parks and recreation commission last Wednesday for consideration.

Hoak said he thinks it would be better if the parks and recreation holds off on any action regarding the park until the commission gets a proposal from the Shepherdstown Men's Club, which has owned the park since 1961. The private club operates the War Memorial Building in Shepherdstown.

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Hoak said he also is worried about the county park system taking action on the proposal, given the rumors that are circulating about the idea.

"We would add confusion to it," Hoak said after last Wednesday's meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Hoak began thinking about the county possibly taking over the park after another land deal in the area of the park was proposed to county officials.

Gene Henry, who owns 11 acres next to Morgan's Grove Park, has offered to sell the land to the commissioners for $1 million to allow for a park expansion.

At least two commissioners have expressed opposition to paying that much money for the 11 acres, which equates to an asking price of roughly $99,000 an acre.

According to Hoak's proposal, if the Shepherdstown Men's Club gives Morgan's Grove Park to the county, it could be viewed as the county paying a little more than $30,000 an acre.

The park contains 21 acres.

Jefferson County Commissioner Greg Corliss, who supports the transfer of park ownership, said Hoak's idea gives "political cover" to an issue that is expected to generate controversy.

Other people are concerned about the proposal, saying they are worried the future of Morgan's Grove Park, especially since park funding in the county has been tight.

Morgan's Grove Park, which is southwest of Shepherdstown at the intersection of W.Va. 480 and Morgan Grove Road, includes soccer fields, a kitchen facility and a backstop.

The Shepherdstown Men's Club is expected to consider the issue during a Sept. 8 meeting.

Although she said it is hard to tell how the organization will react to the proposal, Shepherdstown Men's Club President Ethelmary "Etts" Elliott said she thinks it is a good idea for the county to take over the park.

The Men's Club, which has male and female members, already pays the county $4,000 a year to maintain the park and county officials do a good job, Elliott said.

Elliott said the Shepherdstown Men's Club cannot afford to maintain the park and there is no guarantee what the organization will do with it in the future.

"It's more scary to me as far as the Men's Club is concerned," Elliott said.

Responding to citizen concerns about the fate of the park if it is handed over to the county, Elliott said the county and the Shepherdstown Men's Club could enter into an agreement that would require the county to keep Morgan's Grove Park in its current state.

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