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Roundhouse buy is just a start

June 16, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - It will take millions of dollars to transform the Berkeley County roundhouse complex from a series of crumbling buildings to a historical showplace, according to one of the committee members working to raise money for the project.

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Renovation of the B&O Roundhouse property off Martin Street in Martinsburg moved a step closer to reality Monday when the county learned it would receive $300,000 from the state of West Virginia to purchase the property.

The money will be used to pay CSX Corp. and local developer Moncure Chatfield-Taylor $190,000 for the property, and to begin work to stabilize the walls and roofs of the buildings, Roundhouse Committee Vice Chairman Gordon Claucherty said.

The committee still has a long way to go before the project becomes the jewel envisioned by many in the community, Claucherty said.

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"We've got some essential repairs to make, including (removing) a tree growing out of a wall in one of the buildings," he said. "It's just like buying an old house - everywhere you look there's something else to fix."

Finding the money to make all the necessary repairs will be a major challenge for the project, Claucherty said.

The roundhouse has received about $600,000 in state and federal grants this year, but the executive director of the state's Region 9 Planning and Development Council said the bulk of the "millions of dollars" needed will probably not come from government coffers.

"I think the Roundhouse Committee is going to need to focus on private investors," Region 9's Ken Green said.

The committee has generated about $54,000 from fund-raisers for the roundhouse, and more are planned.

An additional source of money could come in the form of private investors and philanthropic donations, Green said.

"Fortunately, we don't need all of the money at once," Claucherty said.

The direction of the renovation will be heavily dependent on future decisions about the ultimate use of the property, Claucherty said.

Among the uses already mentioned for the roundhouse are a train museum, shopping center, recreation complex, convention center, Civil War museum and a port commerce center that would tie in the area's highway, rail and air transportation system.

A $300,000 federal grant awarded last month to the county will be used to pay for expert studies to develop the port system idea, Green said.

The studies will also look at possible designs that would allow a combination of uses for the property, Green said.

"That complex has a lot of space. You can put a few different things there," Green said.

About $120,000 of the federal grant is designated for the purchase of a trolley that could be used at the roundhouse, and the remaining money should be enough to pay for the studies, Green said.

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