Rec task force preparing for soccer field cleanup
by Jazz Clark
Participants reviewed data and came up with the specifics for a major visioning workshop at an August 23 meeting about the Morgan County soccer fields, along U.S. 522 south of Berkeley Springs.
Data for the decision enhancer tool was filled out by several county officials, as well as influential members of the community.
The major stumbling block came in the form of the characterization of Berkeley Springs as “stagnant and in risk of decline,” as stated in the paperwork.
“The answer has to be a 10-year projection,” said Glenn Ryburn of the Morgan County Fair Board. “You can’t take a snapshot of that question and answer it.”
Though initially the group wanted to change the answer to “stagnant and healthy,” after looking at factors such as rising unemployment and declining school population, the depiction on the form went unchanged.
“If we are in risk of declining, it would give us a platform to respond to in the application for a need in the community,” said Grant Administrator Carol York. “If we have some of these facilities and services, it may attract population.”
Other notable information came to light, including the fact that 15% of the 9.9 acres is not usable for development, due to steep slopes and wetlands.
“We have at best somewhere between eight to eight-and-a-half acres,” said Luke Elser of Brownfields. “We’re not going to develop every square inch of that anyway, we’re not going to develop out all the way to the stream. That’s not how development works.”
As for the recreation property itself, electricity is cheap and there are no zoning restrictions, but there’s also no running water. Elser said they’ve had luck with a zero-water facility in the past, however.
They found that much of the county commutes to work, so motorists are passing by the land all the time, he said.
Much of the hard data will be found once the land is fully assessed in phase two of the study.
“We’ll have a much stronger idea of what the issues are, and what the realistic treatment options are and what kinds of approaches we need to take to treat,” Elser said.
October 15 workshop
The major visioning workshop for figuring out what to put on the property will be held on Monday, October 15, at 5:30 pm at the American Legion in Berkeley Springs.
The point of the workshop is to gather community input, wants and needs. Results will be used to create a strong grant to clean up the property.
According to opinions gathered at the Morgan County Fair, the most popular potential for the land is a multi-use facility. Second is a tie between soccer field, water park and an ice rink.
Other comments called for ideas such as laser tag, animal control buildings, a drive-in movie theater or to buy the land and develop a shopping mall.