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Donated land in Berkeley County might become park

January 08, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

BEDINGTON, W.Va. — Growing up in a big old Victorian with a large fenced yard on Bedington Road in Berkeley County, Virginia Gibbons remembers how her mother loved dogs.

“I can’t tell you how many dogs romped around on that property,” Gibbons said Tuesday. “Growing up, we had dozens of dogs.”

Her mother wouldn’t turn an animal away that needed care and if she didn’t find a home for it, she kept it, her daughter recalled.

Goldie Gibbons passed away in 1981 and the homestead in the northern Berkeley County community of Bedington, is gone, too, but her daughter hopes that dogs again will be able to play on the grassy 1.7-acre site that remains.

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“In many ways it was always a dog park,” said Gibbons, who has proposed to donate the property to Berkeley County’s park system in memory of her mother.

The Berkeley County Council on Thursday is expected to consider whether to take ownership of the land, which the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board would develop and maintain.

The Parks & Recreation Board, which can not take title to park land, agreed to accept the property donation in December.

Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Executive Director Steve Catlett said Monday that the board is going to try to follow through on Gibbons’ request to include an area for dogs in the proposed park, which is across from the Bedington Volunteer Fire Department’s main station.  

Catlett said the parcel is a “really nice piece of property” and could be readily developed for a park. It would join the Dupont soccer complex as the only other park in northern Berkeley County, according to Catlett.

Gibbons, who resides in Alexandria, Va., credited longtime Bedington resident Phil Martin, who has been maintaining the property for her, for helping facilitate the land donation. Martin said the recreational area would be a nice place for people in the community to relax and hopes the county agrees to take the property.

Gibbons said the donation is “a small thing to do in her mother’s memory” and opportunity for her to give back to the community that was generous to her growing up.

“When I grew up in Bedington, I don’t remember any ungenerous people,” said Gibbons, who hasn’t lived in the community for many years.

They were “salt of the Earth people helping their neighbors,” Gibbons said.

Gibbons said she has planned to put aside a portion of her estate in a trust for the benefit of the park.

When her mother died, Gibbons said she wasn’t financially able to fix up the homestead, which was dismantled.

After she saw the property without any structures on it, Gibbons said she realized the land was “way more attractive than I gave it credit for when I was a little kid.”

Gibbons resisted offers to sell the property after she got the idea to donate it for a park.

“My mom loved that property,” Gibbons said.

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