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Brick-making plant site a step closer to becoming park

September 10, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- An effort to secure a former 78-acre brick-making plant site near Hedgesville for a new recreation area is closer to becoming a reality, according to the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority's chairman.

GeoConcepts Engineering of Ashburn, Va., recently was contracted by the Solid Waste Authority for $7,000 to assess the environmental condition of water and soil sampled at the nearly 100-year-old industrial site and determine if it can be used for recreational purposes, Clint Hogbin said recently.

The current land owner, LCS Services Inc., a subsidiary of Waste Management Inc., signed a nonbinding letter of intent in March 2009 to donate the land.

Sitting on the land where the Adamantine Clay Products Co. built the plant in 1911 is a large pile of defective bricks and a large amount of ash and clinkers, according to Hogbin and historical accounts.

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With the proposed land donation, LCS Services, in a nonbinding letter of intent, acknowledged it had abandoned its interest in developing a railroad connection to the nearby North Mountain Sanitary Landfill, which it operates.

The shipping of waste via rail to the landfill once was a huge concern, Hogbin has said.

The brick company mined shale from a belt of the rock that outcropped along the east side of North Mountain near the plant site, and bricks once were shipped to Martinsburg, W.Va., and to eastern and southern cities from the plant, according to historical accounts.

The brick-making operation continued until the early 1970s, and Hogbin has estimated there is 300,000 cubic yards of defective brick piled on the property.

The Adamantine Clay recreation park project is one of several ongoing initiatives to expand recreational opportunities in Berkeley County, according to Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board and County officials.

o Potomac River -- Parks & Recreation officials have been working on a project to obtain 2.7 acres along the Potomac River near Dam No. 5 off Vineyard Road that has been approved for a boat ramp, according to board meeting minutes.

Berkeley County Commissioner William L. "Bill" Stubblefield said this week that he was familiar with the initiative, but could not comment.

o Berkeley 2000 Recreation Center -- Recreation board executive director R. Stephen Catlett said Thursday that the board was close to signing a contract with Minghini's General Contractors Inc., which submitted the lowest bid ($488,400) to expand the center by 4,908 square feet to more than 45,000 square feet.

The additions to the gymnastics and indoor soccer facilities in the recreation center include construction of a separate area for dance activities, additional bathrooms and expanded lobby, Catlett said recently.

Administrative offices will be relocated to expand the main lobby, which is often congested and currently offers little room for concessions, Catlett said.

Each year, Catlett estimated that more than 100,000 people use the four distinctly separate activity sites within the recreation center, which he said was "the best thing that ever happened for public recreation in Berkeley County."

"It's just taken us to a new level."

o Spring Mills High School -- The Berkeley County Commission on Sept. 2 approved an easement agreement with the Berkeley County Board of Education that will give area residents access to the future high school's track facility and tennis courts, County Commission legal counsel Norwood Bentley III said recently.

The school's athletic complex is being built next to Dupont Park, a soccer complex managed by the Parks & Recreation Board. The school is scheduled to open in 2013.

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