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Martinsburg officials to pursue plans for skate park

September 10, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The money to build a skate park in Martinsburg is not available, but city officials on Tuesday decided to ask recreation leaders to develop a comprehensive plan for parkland being eyed for a facility.

A recent seven-acre addition to Oatesdale Park off Tavern Road is a sufficient amount of land for a skate park, said Steve Catlett of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board.

"... To do it right, (a skate park) would be about a half-million dollar project," Catlett said.

In an Aug. 27 letter to Mayor George Karos, Catlett said the Parks & Recreation Board had a $5,000 grant available to pursue a preliminary design for a park that could be used for fundraising purposes.

Catlett said the skate park is one of several unfunded recreation needs, including indoor swimming, tennis and soccer facilities.

"It really is a legitimate need in our community, there's no question about it," Catlett said of a skate park.

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Catlett said he would prefer having a skate park sheltered from the weather, which he said would be easier to maintain and less expensive to build.

In his letter to Karos, Catlett said Parks & Recreation Board members still felt that Ambrose Park near Martinsburg Mall was a better location for a skate park than Oatesdale Park, where the city council's property committee steered the project. The city acquired the land adjoining Oatesdale last year.

"We think we can make it work there," Catlett said.

Because of insurance concerns, Catlett said any skate park facility would be supervised and admission would be charged.

A shift in policy within the last year by the West Virginia Board of Risk and Insurance Management (BRIM) concerning the liability of skate parks essentially revived the project, Catlett said.

The Parks & Recreation Board pays BRIM about $28,000 to insure 16 parks, including two swimming pools and, until the policy change, required a premium for nearly as much money for a skate park by itself, Catlett said.

Catlett said he believed admissions to a skate park can pay for the cost of supervision and an additional $2,500 in insurance.

Recalling a visit to a skate park in Frederick, Md., Catlett said officials there collected about $40,000 annually.

Catlett said a lot of youngsters from Berkeley County go to Frederick to skate.

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