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Martinsburg has a strategic plan for downtown

February 19, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Canadian consultant hired to draft a plan for Martinsburg's cultural development predicts that by 2005 there may be no empty downtown stores and the Roundhouse and Blue Ridge Outlets will have become significant employers.

It will be accomplished, according to a draft cultural strategic plan unveiled Saturday by the consultant, through the integration of Martinsburg's "culturally dynamic core with downtown redevelopment strategies."

The draft was the subject of a meeting in City Hall Saturday morning led by Janis A. Barlow, a Toronto consultant who was paid $84,000 to come up with ideas for the renovation of the B&O Railroad roundhouse and the Apollo Civic Theatre, a plan for the revitalization of the city's historic district and a strategic plan to improve arts and culture in the community.

More than a dozen people attended the meeting. Councilman Richard Yauger was the only member of the City Council present.

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The $84,000 for the study came from the Pittsburgh-based Benedum Foundation. Money to create the foundation came from the will of Claud Benedum Worthington, a turn-of-the-century West Virginia industrialist.

Most of the money in the foundation, which has about $275 million, goes to West Virginia projects, said Dale Herman, president of the group renovating the Apollo Civic Theatre in Martinsburg.

Herman said Worthington made most of his money in West Virginia.

He said $29,000 of the Benedum grant paid for the Apollo study, $16,000 went to the Roundhouse study and the rest was shared by the historic district and cultural assessment studies.

"This is your plan," Barlow told those present Saturday. "It is as good as you make it."

A key recommendation in the study is for the city and county to join together to establish some kind of umbrella organization to coordinate all cultural assets and events, Yauger said.

Barlow asked that anyone having comments or opinions on the draft plan to send them to her at 44 Charles St. West, Suite 5005, Toronto, Canada.

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