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County puts up $1 million to buy park and rec land

March 24, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - The Jefferson County Commission on Thursday decided to set aside $1 million to acquire additional park and recreation land in the county and to have a study conducted on precisely how recreation facilities should be expanded.

Commissioner Dale Manuel began the push for funding for additional parkland earlier this month, saying it makes sense to purchase the land now rather than putting it off until later when prices will be higher.

"We need to be proactive," Manuel said Thursday as he re-emphasized his concerns.

County officials and representatives of local youth sports leagues have expressed concern about having enough space to offer sports programs for thousands of youths in the county.

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A youth soccer program uses property belonging to Edge Hill Cemetery along Seminary Street, but the soccer group will not be able to use the property much longer because it is needed for the cemetery, Commissioner Greg Corliss has said.

"We need to go somewhere," Corliss said.

Representatives and supporters of youth sports programs appeared at the commissioners meeting Thursday to give support to the proposal of setting aside more money for the acquisition of parkland.

Jimmy Pierson, spokesman for the Jefferson County Youth Football and Cheerleaders, said $1.5 million for additional parkland is "just the tip of the iceberg" for what will be needed in the county in years to come.

Pierson said he believes there is community support to develop park facilities if the commissioners purchase the land for them.

"We shouldn't put this off any longer," said Dan McVicar, spokesman for the Jefferson County Youth Soccer League.

A round of applause went up from youth sports groups supporters when the commissioners voted unanimously to spend $1 million on parkland acquisition.

The money will be paid for by slot machine revenue the county receives from Charles Town Races & Slots.

Manuel initially called for $1.5 million to be set aside for parkland, but he said Thursday that he decided to reduce it to $1 million after another commissioner suggested reducing it.

The study which the commissioners authorized Thursday would determine exact recreational needs in the county as well as possible locations and costs for facilities.

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