Over the objections of a downtown businessman and the strong doubts of some of its own members, the Martinsburg, W.Va. City Council last week voted 4-3 to rejoin the state's Main Street program for downtown revitalization.
We realize council members felt they had to act, but after encouraging merchants to organize their own independent group and suggesting that the Main Street approach was about to be abandoned, they've ensured that the next director's first job will be overcoming the ill feelings this action has caused.
That said, we do understand the pressure the council faces to protect downtown's tax base and the progress that's been made in recent years. One of the city's key tourist attractions, the Blue Ridge Outlet Mall, will face strong competition when Prime Retail opens its 100-store outlet village near Hagerstown in mid-1998.
The council also faced questions about what to do with the B&O roundhouse, an historic property which some have suggested could be turned into a civic center. Councilman Glenville Twigg estimates the project could cost $16 million, however. Before committing that kind of money, the city would naturally want someone on board with the expertise to analyze whether the project is a practical tie-in with everything else going on downtown.