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Downtown revitalization plan supported

February 05, 2002

Downtown revitalization plan supported



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The design of a $1.3 million revitalization plan for downtown Charles Town is largely complete and city officials plan to begin putting the project out to bid at the end of March, Charles Town Council members said Monday night.

A groundbreaking could come as early as June, city officials said.

The project will involve ripping up old sidewalks on Washington Street from Samuel to West streets and the 100 block of George Street and replacing them, said Mayor Randy Hilton.

Although some details of the sidewalk project are still being worked out, council members are leaning toward trimming the outside edge of the sidewalks with red and gray "pavers" that resemble brick, said Hilton.

Because city officials want the main intersection in town - George and Washington streets - to be the focal point, there will be a stamped concrete crosswalk at the intersection for pedestrians.

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Council members are also considering coloring the intersection between the crosswalks to further highlight it.

Forty-five Kousa dogwood and silver hawthorn trees will be planted downtown and acorn-shaped streetlamps that are specially designed to direct light downward will be installed in the shopping area, said Melany Alliston of Chester Engineers, the firm that was hired to help design the project.

There will be a minimum of eight street lamps in each block.

To give parking meters a new look, ornate metal sleeves will be slipped over them and meters will be doubled up on single poles to cut the number of posts by half, said Alliston.

The rest of the improvements will include sitting benches, planters and trash receptacles and removing overhead utility lines.

Allegheny Power had considered burying power lines, but now has come up with a different approach, which will involve moving lines to Liberty and Congress streets, said Arnett. Electric lines will be extended into the rear of businesses, said Arnett.

Coinciding with the revitalization project will be the start-up of a $3 million effort to replace central water lines along George and Washington streets. The water lines need to be replaced to correct a problem of low water pressure downtown.

City officials wanted to start both projects at the same time to avoid excess disruption downtown.

The council's street committee, which also worked on the plan, was praised for its work Monday night.

"I think you've done an outstanding job. Everything makes sense," said Hilton.

"Talk about a complicated job. And one that's going to last for a long time," said council member Matt Ward.

Ward was an early proponent of redesigning the downtown area. Sidewalks have started to deteriorate in some areas, and Ward said the city needed to concentrate on revitalizing downtown before significant growth occurs in the area.

Council members also wanted to revitalize the downtown to highlight the town's historic attractions, such as the Jefferson County Courthouse where abolitionist John Brown was tried.

Arnett said the council probably will set a deadline of April 30 for construction bids to be returned.

About $902,000 in funding came from the state and other sources and the remaining $400,000 came from a U.S. Senate appropriation that has been signed by President Bush, said Arnett.

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