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Time running out to find funding for South Berkeley Recreation Center

February 25, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • This is an architect's drawing of the South Berkeley Recreation Center planned in Inwood, W.Va., near the Musselman High School complex.
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board is running out of time to find funding needed to build the South Berkeley Recreation Center as it is currently designed.

The $2.1 million bid by Smithsburg-based Roy C. Kline Contractors for the project is set to expire by mid-March unless the contractor gives the board more time to find about $600,000 still needed for the project, said R. Stephen “Steve” Catlett, executive director of the recreation board.

Catlett said last week he was optimistic the contractor would agree to an extension, but told board members he didn’t know where else to turn to find the additional money.

The low bid, which was among 11 proposals received by the board, was still higher than the $1.5 million gift Powerball jackpot winner W. Randy Smith announced last year for the project.

Catlett said state and federal lawmakers have been contacted about the project, but he had yet to receive any additional funding commitments. The project was previously awarded $75,000 in state funding that was put toward design and planning costs.

If the recreation board is unable to find the money, the project could be rebid, but changes would have to be made to the plans, Catlett said.

As designed by Vienna, Va.-based Helbing Lipp Ltd., the 18,200-square-foot building to be built at Musselman High School in Inwood, W.Va., would house two gymnasiums, and includes areas for restrooms, concessions, staff and storage. 

“We need to keep the size that’s in place,” Catlett said. “We can’t jeopardize the structure.”

The shortfall for the recreation center project comes as the city-county recreation system has put other park projects on hold due to lack of funding. 

Catlett reported last week that deck work needed at the Lambert Park pool and dredging and aeration of the lake at Poor House Farm Park were on hold.

“Our responsibilities are going this way (and) our budget is going this way,” said Catlett, gesturing with his hands outstretched in opposite directions. “At what point does it break?”

Aside from operating a second recreation center, Catlett noted the recent addition of 78 acres off Allensville Road near Hedgesville, W.Va., to the park system and needed recreational development there. The land was donated by LCS Services, the subsidiary of Waste Management Inc. that operates the North Mountain Sanitary Landfill.

Catlett said the recreation board’s budget, already heavily dependent on self-generated funding, has had to absorb decreases in hotel/motel tax revenue and county funding cuts due to the economic downturn.

At the same time, the public’s participation in recreation programs hasn’t decreased, Catlett said. The launch of a new lacrosse program, which will compete in the Western Maryland league, attracted enough young people to form three teams, Catlett said.

While facing the possibility of more funding cuts, board members last week decided not to increase fees charged for recreation leagues and other programs. And Catlett said plans to rehabilitate Ambrose Park in Martinsburg still could move forward thanks to the city’s Community Development Block Grant program and a state Community Partnership Grant obtained by Del. Walter Duke, R-Berkeley.

Catlett said they hope to replace a badly deteriorated pavilion, install new playground equipment, repave parking areas and address handicapped-accessibility at the green space along Mall Drive and Porter Avenue. A dog park also is being proposed at the park as a separate project.

People are driving from Martinsburg to Frederick County, Va., to use a dog park there, Catlett said.

Dog parks are “the hottest thing in public recreation now,” Catlett said. Additional dog parks outside of Martinsburg also are being explored, he said.

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