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Council nixes roundhouse purchase

November 14, 1997

Council nixes roundhouse purchase

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Martinsburg City Council on Thursday night passed up what developer Moncure Chatfield-Taylor said would be his last offer to sell the city his option on the historic roundhouse buildings.

Chatfield-Taylor had offered to sell the city his option on the property for roughly $200,000, which would cover the $150,000 he originally paid plus his expenses, including a fence, building maintenance and needed roof work, said city attorney J. Oakley Seibert.

Chatfield-Taylor said he made the city the offer because he thought its vision of the buildings and land as a civic center and park would be great.

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He said if the city chose not to purchase the option, he would probably purchase it for another use.

Councilman Richard L. Yauger made a motion that the council take the offer, but none of his fellow council members seconded it.

Chatfield-Taylor then withdrew the offer, saying he would probably purchase the land and buildings for another use and make the needed roof repairs.

Last month, Chatfield-Taylor Corp. Vice President Tom Rice told the city council that the company wasn't going to renew its option to buy the property at the end of the year unless the city put up money to repair gaping hopes in the roofs of the roundhouse, machine shop and switch building.

The company, which bought the property to protect its historical significance, has since spent about $50,000 more, including about $15,000 for a fence and plywood over the windows to keep vagrants out, Rice said.

The cast iron frames of the roundhouse and other structures were manufactured in Baltimore in 1866 and assembled like "Tinkertoys" in Martinsburg, according to Stephen C. Dunn of the Hillier Group.

The Washington, D.C., firm recently completed an architectural and engineering study of the buildings that, along with a marketing study, were going to be used to determine if it was feasible to renovate the buildings into a civic center.

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