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Martinsburg BMX/skate park on financial 'shaky ground'

September 18, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A BMX/skate park opened nearly three years ago by the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Board has been on “shaky ground” financially, the board’s Executive Director R. Stephen Catlett told members meeting Tuesday.

The indoor 6,100-square-foot facility at 39 Kelly Island Road hasn’t been generating enough revenue to cover the monthly rent for the former cold-storage warehouse, Catlett said.

The parks and recreation board leased the warehouse space from R.M. Roach & Sons Inc. (Roach Energy) in 2009 and originally staffed it, but then it began to lose money, Catlett said. The rent costs about $1,000 per month, he said.

To avoid continued losses, Catlett said an agreement was reached with Tim Parker of 180 Skate Shop in Martinsburg to manage the park and to allow the pro skate business to sell merchandise there, but park revenues still are lacking.

Catlett said Tuesday that Groove Merchants, a BMX specialty shop in Martinsburg, is relocating to the skate park in a continued effort to keep it open. Groove Merchants owner Jamie Hess confirmed his business is relocating to the skate park Oct. 1 as a retail location and indicated Parker is going to continue managing it.

Catlett said the facility will cease to operate if it can’t carry its own weight financially.

Catlett said the board would see no increase in insurance costs if the skate park was moved to an unsupervised, outdoor site, but said rules for wearing helmets and other protective gear likely would not be followed there.

The parks and recreation board used about $100,000 of a donation from the now-defunct Beth Jacob Congregation in Martinsburg to open the skate park, Catlett said.

He attributed the lack of revenue production to the unwillingness of people to pay admission at the site.

For hours of operation, rules and other information about the BMX/skate park, go to www.mbcparks-rec.org/skatepark.html.

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