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Four SCC board members resign after heated meeting

By Staff | Nov 22, 2019

Mark Kohut, treasurer for the Shepherdstown Community Club, gives a financial report, prior to the discussion on Morgan's Grove Park on Nov. 13. Toni Milbourne

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Tempers flared during the Shepherdstown Community Club’s annual membership meeting on Nov. 13, leading to the resignation of four prominent board members, after members began questioning the board’s research on funding options for the maintenance of Morgan’s Grove Park.

SCC President Nancy Stewart spent a good portion of the meeting sharing what she called a consensus of the SCC Board, on how to move forward with the park.

The club, which owns the park, has held a contract for many years with Jefferson County Parks and Recreation who maintained the park, but as of Nov. 1, the park was once again the club’s full responsibility.

“Last winter, Parks and Rec terminated the contract and turned the park over to us,” Stewart said. “What does this mean for the club? We have to figure a way forward.”

According to Stewart, the park will cost the club $67,000 in maintenance fees, based on financial information from JCPR and by analyzing what that department’s costs have averaged over time.

“This is just a base amount,” Stewart said, mentioning the board agreed the total amount must be money in-hand before the park can be re-opened in the spring.

“We must also have two to three years of that amount as guaranteed income,” Stewart said. “Without that, we cannot accept bookings for the park for 2020. If we don’t have core funding, we will have to do fundraising all year long.”

According to Stewart, volunteers already work hard, so funding must come from other sources. She indicated that grants were not easy to come by and are not a guaranteed revenue stream.

“The money has to come from the county and the city or a combination of both,” Stewart said. “One of the more painful parts of this situation is that EPIC Soccer really wanted to work with us and have made good offers, but timing is the problem. We don’t know if the park will be open at the start of the season or not, so we didn’t enter into a contract for the year.”

Following Stewart’s comments, past president Mike Austin addressed the large crowd, saying it had not been a consensus to move forward in the way Stewart proposed.

“There was significant dissent. We can’t run hat-in-hand to the city or county, unless we do our due diligence,” Austin said, mentioning he believed volunteers could raise the necessary funds, without help from the local government. He also questioned Stewart’s figures on the park’s funding needs.

David Rosen, who serves on Shepherdstown’s Town Council and represented EPIC Soccer, addressed the board members.

“If you keep turning down money, how will you ever get to the $67,000?” Rosen asked. “EPIC is ready to do a 10-year agreement to take care of the park.”

Many suggestions for generating funds came from the audience; however, none constituted a consistent revenue stream.

“This is the most negative, sarcastic presentation,” said Adam Shively, a new club member. “The park is an asset that brings people to the community, but all I am hearing is what cannot be done.”

After more heated discussion, Shively, Steve Wabnitz and Dave Fogelsong were nominated from the floor to be new board members, who will be officially in place in December.

On Monday, SCC board member Howard Wachtel sent out a notification, announcing the resignation of himself, President Nancy Stewart, Treasurer Mark Kohut and past president Tom Huddleston from the board.

“Developments at the meeting meant that it would be impossible for us to remain as SCC Board members and fulfill what we consider to be the SCC’s larger mission to the Shepherdstown community. Therefore, we concluded we needed to resign,” Wachtel wrote. “We want to extend our profound appreciation and thanks to all the individuals who, over the years, have given of their time and skills to make the Shepherdstown Community Club a stalwart of this community.”