Officials Implore Housing Authority to Approve Tower for Children’s Garden

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UPDATE  On Tuesday, Martinsburg officials asked the Housing Authority board to reconsider its denial of a tower for Ambrose Park, reported Herald-Mail Media. Last month, the board voted unanimously against lifting a deed restriction allowing construction of a tower. 

According to Steve Catlett, superintendent of parks for the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board, the loss of anticipated lease revenue ($21,600 annually) from the tower would be “a serious blow” to plans for expanding the children’s garden that was established in 2017. Of the garden, Catlett added, “It is a real beast to take care of. It’s a high maintenance area.”

Although the city council approved the special-use permit application for a 100-foot faux evergreen tree tower submitted by Liberty Towers LLC in March, the Housing Authority board decided to uphold an old law. The Herald-Mail reported that a 1976 deed between the city and the housing authority requires the location in question “shall be restricted in its use to public park purposes and no other.” 

Housing Authority board member Jim Rogers cited “communication issues” with Liberty Towers in the board’s decision. According to Rogers, despite efforts to obtain additional project information, “emails never got answered” by Liberty Towers.

Catlett noted to board members, “Do we want a tower in our park? Probably not, but for $21,600 a year, it would be tremendously important to us to have a park that we’ve invested over a half-million dollars in and now have the funds to maintain it at a high level.”

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