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Part of donated DuPont land to be used for library

July 20, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A donation of nine acres to Bedington Volunteer Fire Department that was celebrated Wednesday will not only be home to a new firehouse for north Berkeley County residents, but a two-story library named in honor of the benefactor - E.I du Pont de Nemours and Co.

"We're thrilled at the prospect that the community will have a new library on that spot," said DuPont regional public affairs spokesman David Hastings after taking part in a deed presentation at the fire department's main station off Bedington Road.

"That's terrific news ... we're happy that they've decided to do that."

Up to two acres of the wooded property off U.S. 11 north of DuPont Road is expected to be leased for 99 years to the county's public library system for $1, fire department President Robert "Robbie" Robinson said.

"We've just become partners with the library," said Robinson, who heaped accolades on DuPont officials for donating "hundreds of hours of work" to assist the fire department over the years. The land donated is valued between $300,000 and $400,000, Robinson said.

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Elated to be offered part of the donated land, library system director Pamela K. Coyle hoped dirt could be moved within six months for the future branch location.

"The sign is going up as soon as we can find someone to make it and stick it in the ground," said Coyle, noting the need to raise more money for the project.

Library officials have $100,000 set aside for civil and architectural engineering work for the project.

Robinson said the fire department also needs to raise more money for the station, but hopes the property at least can be cleared by next year for the fire department's popular Interstate Fair fundraiser. Staged since 2001 near the I-81 Flea Market, the fair could not be held this year because the property was sold.

"The future is bright for the fire department," Robinson said.

Robinson credited Kimberly Sencindiver of Fasloc Inc., who was formerly with DuPont, for keeping the donation request alive. DuPont sold its coal mine roof supports business at the Potomac River works site to Fasloc last year but retained ownership of the land. Fasloc retained DuPont's employees.

Robinson did take the opportunity Wednesday to credit state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, for working "behind the scenes" to make the project happen.

"He's been very instrumental in getting things worked out for us," Robinson said.

Coyle thanked Unger for "acting as a broker between all parties for the betterment of expanded library services" along with members of the Concerned Citizens of North Berkeley and the Marlowe Ruritan Club members, who agreed to provide interim space for the library.

Coyle said a public meeting will be held in the coming weeks to solicit input on what amenities the community wants at the new library. She anticipates it will feature drive-thru window service for the area's commuting population and could provide support for the Falling Waters Civil War Battlefield site nearby.

The donation by DuPont was initially conceived to be a five-acre parcel for the fire department, but additional acreage was tacked on to the parcel donated by DuPont within the last year to make room for the north Berkeley County library site, officials said.

"Both groups, I think are going to benefit from each other," said Coyle recalling her past work at a South Charleston, W.Va. library that is across the street from a fire department there.

Coyle envisions the new branch location will be similar in size to a new, two-story Hedgesville library building also in the works. A civil engineer and an architect already have been hired for that project off W.Va. 901. Funding still is needed to complete both branches, she said.

"It's going to be an interesting two or three years," Coyle said. "For us, this is an exciting time.

"Hopefully, we have the momentum now that we can move forward," Coyle said.

Founded in 1802, the science company recently sold nine acres to the Berkeley County Public Water Service District for a planned expansion of water supply facilities, according to a company spokesman. DuPont donated a 10-acre parcel to Berkeley County school district officials in 1995.

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