— Popular community group seeks funding to maintain beloved park.
What has walking trails, athletic fields, and history? The answer is the 25-acre Morgan’s Grove Park in Shepherdstown—owned by the Shepherdstown Community Club (SCC). The Jefferson County Department of Parks and Recreation has held the lease for the last 12 years, but officially turned it back to the SCC on November 1 (2019), when it will close for the season. The SCC hopes to reopen on April 1, 2020.
The land gained fame in 1775 when General George Washington issued a call for the Virginia Volunteer Riflemen to join him in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Under the command of Captain Hugh Stephenson, the troops departed on July 16, 1775, from Shepherdstown, after spending time on the land—on the famous Beeline March to Cambridge, covering 600 miles in 24 days.
On September 17, 1988, to honor the event, Army Secretary John O. Marsh, Jr., along with the 249th Army Band and elements of the 3rd U.S. Infantry, dedicated a plaque commemorating the Revolutionary War Beeline March. In 1999, this site in Morgan’s Grove Park was entered into the National Register of Historic Places. Thirty-eight Revolutionary War veterans are buried in the surrounding area.
Nancy Stewart, SCC president, said, “The Shepherdstown Community Club was founded in 1945, which at that time was known as the Men’s Club. Along with owning Morgan’s Grove Park, we also own the War Memorial building, located at the corner next to the library on German Street.”
Duties that will now have to be assumed by the SCC include mowing, mulching, cleanup, repairs, maintenance of the buildings, walking trails, facilities, and trees, as well as insurance, and replacement of playground equipment that is unsafe or worn out. This will incur a cost of roughly $60,000 a year to maintain the park.
“We are announcing our capital campaign, trying to make people aware that we will need their help to support the park,” Stewart indicated. “We are exploring all options for fundraising, including selling the park if needed. We have to secure reliable funding to run the park for multiple years. It has to be stable and efficient funding. We can’t create fundraising every year.”
Right now, the SCC has two major fundraisers, which include the annual Legendary Book Sale, as well as the annual Back-Alley Garden Tour and Tea. They will need further sources of funding to maintain both the park and also a building that needs structural support.
“We would like to have the sports come back to the park, such as the soccer teams,” added Stewart. “It’s great revenue for the park, but unfortunately, last year, the weather caused an issue with the fields being too wet. In order to make the fields playable, drainage would have to be installed, and the fields would have to be reseeded and reconditioned. That comes at a great cost.”
There are many ways the community can help with donations, such as their time.
Stewart maintained, “We are really optimistic that folks in Shepherdstown and the surrounding area that love the park the way we do will step up to save the park.”By Robin Murphy