Skate park may go south of town
A parcel of land along U.S. Route 522 South is being considered as a potential site for the future BS2 Berkeley Springs Bike and Skate Park.
Berkeley Springs Bike and Skate Park (BS2) spokesperson Jennie McBee, BS2 members Matt Hovermale and Lynn Kemper and Morgan County Parks and Recreation representative Bruce Beadenkopf asked the Morgan County Commission for another site for their planned skate park.
Much of the plot of land behind the school board office that was designated for the project is in the floodplain. The remaining portion isn't large enough to build their skate park, said McBee.
The school board had donated the west side of the land behind the school board office to Parks and Recreation for the skate park, said Commission President Glen Stotler. Not enough of the approximately 1.2 acre lot would be usable land to provide the space they need, he said.
The Morgan County Commission offered the group part of a 10-acre parcel across from the Morgan County Parks and Recreation ball fields on U.S. Route 522 that they had acquired from Tom Seely.
Hovermale told the commissioners that they needed roughly an acre for skateable and rideable surfaces and separate pieces for beginners and more skilled riders for safety reasons. They wanted to incorporate other features such as hiking trails and dirt bike jumps, said McBee.
They had been working with Nate Wessel, a national skate park and BMX park designer, McBee said. Wessel has built some of the top 10 parks. It was a rare opportunity to work with him, she said.
People will come from out-of-state and the park will attract BMX riders from all over, said McBee. She was confident of community support and funding from the community to complete the project.
Skate park cost
Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson asked the BS2 Bike and Skate Park members about the project cost.
Hovermale said that it would cost around $300,000 to build the skate park. The group has around $150,000 in donations of labor, supplies and equipment pledged toward the project.
They have around $37,000 in grant money left after paying Wessel half of the design cost, said McBee. The group didn't know yet how much more money they needed to raise.
Commissioner Tommy Swaim raised concerns about toilet facilities. Putting in water and sewer could raise the project costs significantly and well and septic could be very serious issues, he said. The group could temporarily use porta-potties, said McBee.
Stotler suggested giving the group a corner of the 10 acres that would be about 150 by 250 feet in size that may already have power, a well and a septic system on it.
Hutchinson asked about placing the skate park on the 16-acre plot by the ball field near the restroom facilities there. That would require more excavation, said Stotler. The 10-acre plot has a level section that is already used for overflow parking for the ball games, he said.
There also needed to be a master plan for the 16 acres since there was a wet weather stream and wetlands on the site, said Stotler.
Swaim wondered why we needed a $300,000 skate park while neighboring counties have built them for $70,000-$80,000. Hovermale explained that they wanted to build a park that would attract national attention and tourism from other towns that would also be a big draw in town. Wessel's quality of work and design is ahead of all designers, said Hovermale.
The BS2 group had been working on the skate park project for nearly seven years.
"We want to get our money and do something fabulous," said McBee. The skate park would be a place "where local youth could ride where pros ride," said McBee.
"It would be a wonderful example for them," she said.
"It can be a very positive activity if done in the right way," said Hovermale.
Hutchinson said her sons were two of the original skaters in town. She said that we needed to look at the skate park as a positive thing.
"It's a sport, not a fad," she said.
Hovermale said the skate park would give kids something positive to do instead of video games and drugs.
"You don't have to convince me. I'm on your side," said Hutchinson.
A long time coming
Stotler said that the need for a skate park went back 15-20 years. The commissioners suggested that the group use their grant money to get a concrete base down and a fence around it and then add pieces in for the skate park as they could. The BS2 group hoped to build the skate park all at once, said McBee.
The commissioners will arrange to tour the potential skate park site with BS2 members as soon as their surveyor has had a chance to mark the corners of the property. If the parcel were approved as a site for the skate park, the site would become part of Parks and Recreation land.
Approval of the site could be on the agenda for this Friday's commission meeting if the surveying and site visit can be arranged before then.