Library, fire co. can't use du Pont's land gift

March 02, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A donation of nine acres to Bedington Volunteer Fire Department will not be the future home of a branch library for northern Berkeley County as was planned, County Commissioners were told Thursday.

In making the announcement, Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library director Pamela K. Coyle quoted a civil engineer's conclusion that the two acres offered by the fire department for the branch library is "essentially nonbuildable" for their project.

Fire department President Robert "Robbie" Robinson on Thursday wasn't optimistic that the remaining acreage could be used by his organization, which planned to stage its annual Interstate Fair fundraiser at the site off U.S. 11, north of DuPont Road.

The nine acres was donated last summer by E.I du Pont de Nemours and Co.

The fire department had hoped to build another fire station on the site, Robinson said.

"We had great plans," Robinson said outside of the Commission's chambers in the Dunn Building.


Robinson said the fire department's board of directors still needed to assess the situation, and he contemplated the possibility of attempting to sell some of the acreage in order to mitigate environmental conditions of the parcel. Like much of the area around it, the parcel has karst geology that featured environmentally sensitive sinkholes and springs.

"We don't have any money to put into the property," Robinson said.

Du Pont officials in July 2006 announced the donation, which was more than five years in the making, according to facilitators of the gift.

Upon announcing the donation, Robinson announced the fire department had offered to lease two acres of the parcel next to a power line right-of-way and railroad line to the library for $1.

At the time, Coyle was elated by the offer, but the discoveries made by the library's contracted engineering firm, Alpha Associates Inc., has doused her plans.

"We're (now) trying to look at anything out there that's feasible," said Coyle, who presented county leaders with the library system's budget for the coming fiscal year.

Coyle told Commissioner William "Bill" Stubblefield that elevated concerns about school security, and somewhat cumbersome policies created as a result, have made it unlikely that a second branch of the county's library system would be physically attached to a new high school planned for Spring Mills.

Security policies now in place at Musselman High School are affecting library patrons at the southern Berkeley County branch there, but Coyle said a stand-alone library at the Spring Mills campus could still be possible, if school district leaders were able to accommodate it.

Despite the setback for northern Berkeley County, Coyle said plans for a new, two-story branch library in Hedgesville, W.Va., are moving ahead. She told the Commission she hopes to obtain variances for that project in the coming weeks from town leaders there.

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