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Couple donates $125,000 for Martinsburg dog park

March 19, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Martinsburg couple has donated up to $125,000 for the construction of a dog park in the city on behalf of their family.

Travis Hill said Tuesday that he and his wife, Scarlett, are carrying out the wishes of his late aunt, Gretchen Wurzburg of Martinsburg, who left $500,000 in her will for student scholarships, public recreation and churches.
“Our family wanted to give back to the community,” Hill said of the decision they made in late February to support the project at Ambrose Park, which is along Mall Drive in Martinsburg.

Wurzburg, who died in 2008, provided for the establishment of three funds with the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation, Hill said.

“This was just I was hoping would happen,” Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board Executive Director R. Stephen Catlett said of the private gift.

“Both of these folks have done a lot for recreation and a lot with the foundation,” Catlett told parks and recreation board members Tuesday at the board’s regular meeting.

Expected to be completed this year, Catlett said the dog park is going to be “first class.”

Hill said the donation not only was a way to honor his family and give back to the community, but to support something that would benefit people as well as their pets.

“Pets ... provide opportunities for people to get together and greater opportunity for socialization,” Hill said.

Hill said they learned about the need for funding for the dog park from newspaper articles and informed Catlett that his family’s donor-advised fund with the foundation, the Wurzburg/Hill Family Fund, was available for public recreation needs, Hill said.

The foundation board acted on the donation proposal on March 4, Hill said.

Hill said his wife came up with the dog park idea after seeing one in Naples, Fla., and Catlett said they are looking at using it as a pattern.

“It’s going to be very nice,” Catlett said.

Hill said he has always been impressed with Catlett’s ability to stretch the use of funding available for public recreation to get the maximum possible benefit for the community.

“Our family thinks the world of Steve Catlett,” said Hill, who called Catlett an “unsung hero” in Berkeley County.

The addition of the dog park joins several other separately funded improvements that also are slated to be done this year, Catlett said.

Replacement of Ambrose Park’s pavilion, bathroom renovations, new playground equipment and other improvements are expected to be funded with $14,500 in state funding and about $160,000 in federal money channeled through the city’s Community Development Block Grant program.

Between a dozen and 15 trees are expected to be planted in the park as part of a separate grant that the city received and a children’s garden also has been proposed, Catlett said.

The acreage will be fully utilized when all of the improvements are in place, according to Catlett, who expects Ambrose Park will become a much more popular community destination.

“I think it’s going to be jammed with users,” Catlett said.

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