Northern Berkeley library plans almost on the books

June 13, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A library for northern Berkeley County could be a reality within the next two years, following the expected donation of a parcel of land for the facility, a library official said Monday.

Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library Director Pam Coyle said library officials expect to close a deal within a month on an agreement that would grant the library 2 to 3 acres near Falling Waters, W.Va. The deal would give northern Berkeley County residents their first permanent library since the closure last year of the branch facility at Nestle Quarry Road.

Coyle, who said the property is near U.S. 11 north of the Spring Mills area, declined to reveal details of the transaction.

"Because of stipulations in privacy issues, the library board could not and still can't release any information," Coyle said. "This is a real estate transaction that has to be handled with the utmost discretion."


Coyle said library officials have worked hard over the last year to select a site to house the branch, which was moved temporarily to the lower level of the Marlowe Ruritan Club last year.

In addition to the donation of land, Coyle said the library also is lining up donations of services and materials valued at nearly $500,000 to help complete the project that could cost as much as $2 million.

Funding has also been raised from donations by area businesses, said Ruby Foltz, who, along with neighbors Sherry Dockeney and Rose Straley, helped organize the Concerned Citizens of North Berkeley County.

About $8,000 has been raised by that group to help with the project, Foltz said Monday.

Last week, the library lost $100,000 that had been allocated to it last year by the Berkeley County Commission, after commissioners criticized the apparent lack of activity by library officials to move forward with plans for a new facility and turned the money over to the Falling Waters Battlefield Association.

"We've made money available to the library board and they've done nothing," said Commissioner Ron Collins earlier this month.

He called on the library to contribute funding for the purchase of a 14-acre parcel that the battlefield group would like to develop into a park to commemorate the 1861 Battle of Falling Waters. The property, which contains the historic Crockett-Porterfield house, is owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and is listed for sale for $1.6 million.

Coyle said library officials did not want to approach the commission about the project without having plans and cost estimates to show them.

FWBA President Tom Ressler said the battlefield group would like to set aside two acres of the property to the library, but Coyle said the library board can't consider building a facility on property that neither the library nor the battlefield group owns.

"We can't deal in speculation," said Coyle, adding she supports efforts to preserve open space for the battlefield. "If you own the land outright and offer it to us then we'll be more than willing to consider your offer."

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