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Preserving Boydville will honor citizens' ancestors

December 30, 2005

Citizens of the Tri-state area have seen it happen too many times.

A historic property is threatened with development, the preservationists leap into action and pleas to spare the historic property are made by many.

But the zoning allows the plan the developer has put together and after several last-minute attempts to find financing for an alternative, the property is demolished.

That's how it has happened in the past, which is why the rescue of the Boydville property, in Martinsburg, W.Va., is such good news.

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Not only does the 13-acre property have an 1812-era home that was spared torching by President Lincoln during the Civil War, it also includes a stone fort that historians believe was built prior to the Revolutionary War.

Had it not been for some timely intervention, the property might have become home to 54 duplexes and eight single-family homes.

That was what was proposed by The Rector Companies, a Manassas, Va.-based development group whose plan for more intensive development was rejected previously.

But instead, the development group agreed to sell Boydville, if a pact could be negotiated by the end of 2005.

The Farmland Protection Board kicked in $1.5 million of that, with the Martinsburg City Council contributing the remaining $750,000.

The council's contribution to the effort is not supported by all. There are some who see much of history as the dead past that needs to give way to tax-generating development for the future.

No, everything that is old is not worth preserving, but as state Sen. John Unger noted, those who forget where they came from can lose their way on the journey into the future.

Citizens should not forget that the relative ease of their lives today was made possible by people who risked their lives and health to set up local towns and all of the institutions of civilization.

The people of Berkeley County need to look back and honor the memory of those who came before, unless they want to delude themselves into believing that no one but themselves had a hand in providing their good fortune.

Boydville will endure because present-day officials and citizens decided not to forget who got them this far.

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