Roundhouse gets purchase money

June 14, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Roundhouse restoration project got a boost Monday with the announcement the county will receive $300,000 from the state of West Virginia to purchase the property.

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The county will receive $240,000 from the West Virginia Department of Transportation and $60,000 from Gov. Cecil Underwood's contingency fund to purchase and remodel the B&O Roundhouse property off Martin Street in Martinsburg, said state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley.

"We thought it was a long shot, but the money came through. This is the answer we've been looking for," Berkeley County Commission President D. Wayne Dunham said.

The committee trying to buy the roundhouse had raised $54,000 toward the $190,000 purchase price, but with a July 1 deadline coming up, it had asked for a two-month extension from the CSX Corp. and local developer Moncure Chatfield-Taylor.


"This money puts us in the clear with a little bit extra," Dunham said.

The county recently was awarded a $300,000 federal grant for the project, but federal restrictions prevented the county from using the money toward the purchase of the property.

That grant, announced last month by U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., will be used to pay for renovation of the 132-year-old buildings.

The $240,000 is a quasi federal-state grant but will be administered by the state Department of Transportation, which means the money has fewer restrictions than a traditional federal grant, state Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, said.

Unger said the $300,000 came as the result of a grass-roots effort that included many people.

"This is what happens when you have a community working together," Unger said.

With the issue of raising the money to buy the property solved, Berkeley County Commissioner Robert Burkhart said the Roundhouse Committee can concentrate on the restoration phase.

"One of our biggest concerns has been doing too much before the project was paid off," Burkhart said.

The first priority will be to fix the roofs, he said.

Steeped in history, the roundhouse property is seen by many in the county as a key to the economic future of both the City of Martinsburg and Berkeley County.

Confederate troops set fire to the original roundhouse property in 1863, hoping to cut off supplies to Union forces.

In 1877, the roundhouse was the focal point of the Great Railroad Strike as workers walked off their jobs due to wage cuts.

The Roundhouse Committee has considered a number of uses for the building, including a center for Civil War history and new businesses.

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