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Officials want to spruce up city corridor

April 02, 2002|BY DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Saying the eastern entrance to Charles Town on East Washington Street is a "jumbled corridor," a Charles Town City Council member says the city is considering another revitalization project that could include sidewalks, street lighting and burying overhead utility lines in the area.

Council member Matt Ward has long expressed his distaste with the busy East Washington Street area and how it affects Charles Town.

East Washington Street in the area around Charles Town Races & Slots and other businesses is clogged with traffic and does nothing to attract people to the downtown area, Ward said Monday. He said overhead utility lines and lack of sidewalks also mars the look of the area.

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"It doesn't befit the entrance to a historic town," said Ward, adding that improvements could cost approximately $750,000.

Ward said the Charles Town City Council is considering installing sidewalks, street lighting and benches and other improvements along East Washington Street from Samuel Street east to Jefferson Avenue.

If council members follow through on the project, the revitalization would connect with a $1.3 million revitalization about to get under way in the downtown area, said Ward.

That project, which will extend from Samuel to West streets on Washington Street and the 100 block of George Street, will include new sidewalks, street lamps, new trees, newly designed parking meters and a historical interpretive area.

Work on that project could begin as early as June, city officials said.

Making similar improvements through the East Washington Street area would not result in tax or fee increases to city residents, Ward said. City officials plan to seek money for the project through elected officials such as U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., Ward said.

The project could include other efforts, such as redesigning East Washington Street to help traffic flows and consulting with business owners in the area about changing the design of their signs, Ward said.

Jim Buchanan, president of Charles Town Races, said he is receptive to the proposal.

"I think anything they want to do ... to improve the area, is fine with me," Buchanan said.

Buchanan said the track is considering building a new entrance to the track, which should reduce the amount of traffic using the entrance on East Washington Street.

Track owners are considering making the new entrance east of the current entrance near the Sheetz convenience store, said Buchanan, who said the proposal has been discussed with state highway officials.

"There's been nothing to say we can't do it so far," Buchanan said.

Terry Marcus, co-owner of Turf Motel at 608 E. Washington St., said he can support parts of the plan. But he said changing the design of East Washington Street could be difficult given the fact that his business is only about eight feet from the edge of the road.

Marcus said he is also not sold on the idea of possibly redesigning his large sign out front.

"Burying power lines is not a big deal. Putting a sidewalk out front, certainly. My sign, that will be another thing," said Marcus.

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