School board votes to designate 2.69 acres at Musselman High for recreation center

February 21, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Berkeley County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to allocate 2.69 acres at the Musselman High School campus in Inwood, W.Va., for construction of a public recreation center.

“We are very excited about this project, to say the least,” Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board Executive Director R. Stephen “Steve” Catlett told school board members in a presentation about what he called the “South Berkeley Recreation Center.”

Superintendent Manny P. Arvon assured board members there is plenty of campus parking available for the recreation center, which would be on the south side of the high school.

Proposed to be about 18,000 square feet, the recreation facility’s two gymnasiums would be made available to the school district for athletic programs, doubling the amount of such space for high school teams, Arvon and Catlett said.

The recreation center is proposed to be built with money that Powerball jackpot winner W. Randy Smith has contributed to an endowment fund that he established with the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation, which also will review the project, Catlett said.

While the financial arrangements have not been finalized with the Foundation, Catlett said obtaining the property was a big piece of the puzzle.

“It’s something that we in Parks & Rec have been wanting to do for a long time ... to get a better identity in the south end of the county,” Catlett said.

Two of three failed attempts to pass excess levies for public recreation in the 1990s included a commitment to build a recreation center in southern Berkeley County, Catlett said.

Board President William F. “Bill” Queen suggested the recreation center be built in a way to blend in with the high school and not deter from the appearance of the campus.

“I know we’re under cost constraints ... but we want it to just add to the whole complex if we can, the appearance of it,” Queen said.

Queen also asked whether additional parking would be available to accommodate expansion of the recreation center.

“Steve’s going to add on to this, and it could really get big,” Queen said.

Arvon said the recreation center’s parking needs would primarily be after the school day is over, but said coordination might be needed for special events.
“There’s tons of parking,” Arvon said after the meeting.

Attorneys still have to finalize legal agreements between the school district and the Parks & Recreation Board to clarify insurance, maintenance, usage and other issues, Arvon said.

Arvon cited an existing agreement for sharing facilities at the Spring Mills educational campus and described the project proposed at Musselman as being a continuation of the partnership between the school system and the Parks & Recreation Board.

Stormwater management infrastructure already in place might have to be enhanced somewhat, but Arvon said he doesn’t expect much adjustment will be needed.

Catlett predicted the county’s second recreation center would have a wonderful effect on southern Berkeley County, similar to the Berkeley 2000 Recreation Center at Lambert Park in Martinsburg.

“I don’t know of anything that’s had more of a positive impact on young people than what the Berkeley 2000 Recreation Center has,” Catlett said.

In other business, Arvon said he hoped construction of Spring Mills High School could begin May 1.

A mandatory pre-bid conference for prime contractors interested in bidding for the construction of the new school is scheduled for March 10 at Spring Mills Middle School. Arvon said he expected 100 to 125 contractors and subcontractors to attend.

The school board is tentatively expected to award bids for the project April 12.

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