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Berkeley County backs effort to extend trail through park

Councilman Jim Barnhart was appointed to explore viability of creating pathway through Charlotte Prather Park

August 23, 2013

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Berkeley County Council this week informally endorsed an effort to extend the Eastern Panhandle Recreational Trail west through parkland that the county owns.

Councilman Jim Barnhart was appointed Thursday by council President Anthony J. “Tony” Petrucci to explore the viability of creating a pathway through Charlotte Prather Park.

The park, next to P.O. Faulkner Park in Martinsburg, is home to the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Girl’s Softball League. The homefield for American Legion and Martinsburg High School baseball teams are also part of the athletic complex.

Bill Yearout of Eastern Panhandle Trailblazers Inc. told the council that the pathway is a key link in a proposed western extension of the trail from the current terminus near the Eastern Regional Jail through the city.

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The 11.5-mile Eastern Panhandle Recreational Trail, which was built along the four-lane section of W.Va. 9 between Martinsburg and Ranson, W.Va., has attracted significant use since it opened without being connected to residential areas, officials said.

Yearout said they hope to extend the trail west to State Circle in Martinsburg and improve upon existing “goat trails” to navigate through Charlotte Prather Park. Eventually, the trail group would like to have the trail connect to Oatesdale Park.

The cost of the pathway through Charlotte Prather Park would be minimal and could be done by spring, Yearout said.

One issue that needs to be clarified is whether a legal right of way for the trail is possible from State Circle through the park area, officials said.

Although the county owns the parkland, it is leased for the athletic teams’ use, officials said.

Yearout told the council that there has been a groundswell of support for what he dubbed a “parks-to-parks trail network” in the community.

In addition to promoting healthy lifestyles, such a trail system would connect the community’s parks via trail, providing a safer route to travel between them, especially for young people, officials said.

Steve Catlett, executive director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation board, told the council that the goal was to create as many off-street pathways as possible in making the park-to-park connections.

— Matthew Umstead

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