New players join county in soccer field cleanup effort
Anyone planning to play soccer next year on the county’s field south of Berkeley Springs will have to find different turf for the spring season.
While the field will remain closed to play for the short term, county efforts to address the soil debris issues there have taken a turn upwards, with the help of a few new players.
County Commissioner Brad Close said recently he has been working with state brownfields officials, who specialize in cleaning up and finding uses for former industrial sites with possible soil or water contamination issues.
Close said there is also a partnership forging between the county and WVU students in the Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design program to create a long-range design for the full 9-acre parcel on which the soccer field sits.
The remainder of that land, which the county bought in 2007, is undeveloped, but was slated to hold future soccer fields.
Students in the university program are also being asked to look at uses and designs for the county’s wooded 16-acre parcel that sits south of the ball field complex.
That land is currently wooded and unused, but some talk has circulated about using that property for a permanent County Fair site, among other things.
Close and Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson discussed the property and the new developments during the commission’s regular meeting on August 4.
Hutchinson asked that 4-H, the Farm Bureau, the Fair board, Parks & Rec and the Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company be included in any design or brainstorming meetings.
Hutchinson said one idea to consider was bringing the Fireman’s Carnival to that property, to coincide with the County Fair, as is done in other counties.
Having permanent exhibit or multi-use buildings on that property could generate income for Parks & Rec if the group rented the buildings out for private use or events, said Hutchinson.
Phased plan may pay off
Close said the timeline for any changes in the soccer field, which was shut to public use because of concerns about glass and metal debris embedded in the topsoil and turf, is probably 18 to 24 months.
While he expressed regret over the length of that wait, he said the county could reap real benefits from participating in a three-phase plan with brownfields experts and design students.
One of the main pluses for following the more lengthy process, Close said, was that the county would be more likely to attract grant money for future recreation projects on the property if a full assessment and design was completed first.
Help from the WVU students and state brownfields experts is also free, Close pointed out.