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Charles Town asks utility to direct renewal project

January 24, 2001

Charles Town asks utility to direct renewal project



Allegheny Energy, whose subsidiaries are branching into everything from solar energy supply to Internet service, may be taking on yet another role, if it accepts the challenge posed by Charles Town, W.Va.

Town officials want the utility to act as general contractor for its downtown renovation project, in part because so much of it will involve burying or relocating a number of overhead power lines. It's another challenge for a company that doesn't seem to be afraid of new ventures.

The timing of the revitalization project is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a developer's proposal to create a 3,300-home community called Hunt Field, complete with a shopping center, on a 1,000-acre tract south of the city.

Last February Matt Ward, a member of the Charles Town Council, said he hoped that the businesses there wouldn't compete with Charles Town merchants. The best way to ensure that is to complete the downtown project and give businesses there a head start on whatever might locate in the Hunt Field shopping center.

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It's likely, however, that there'll be a different type of business locating in the Hunt Field center. In a center designed to serve a community, we'd guess that there would be a dry cleaner, a grocery, a neighborhood restaurant and perhaps a combination convenience store/newstand.

For the downtown Charles Town area, we envision businesses keyed to support the government functions that take place there, or others like restaurants or gift shops, that will feed off the tourist trade that town officials hope to attract with this project.

The key to this project is the town's history, beginning with its founding by George Washington's brother Charles. For residents of the metropolitan areas, where the "historic" structures date back no further than the 1950s, places like Charles Town are irreplaceable reminders of how the nation began. We wish Allegheny Energy well in the utility's latest enterprise.

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