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Roundhouse officials eye $2 million grant

April 03, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Federal highways officials toured the Roundhouse complex in Martinsburg Wednesday morning, wanting to see the facility for which they have granted $2 million for repairs, said C. William "Bill" Hayes, executive director of the Roundhouse Authority.

"They wanted to see what kind of progress we had made," Hayes said.

The grant will be used to install new floors, repair or replace doors and windows, clean up the walls and remove beams and piping installed in the 1940s or 1950s that detract from its historical character.

"What we're trying to do is take it back to ... the 19th century," Hayes said. The multi-building complex was built before the Civil War, but was destroyed by Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. It was re-built after the war.

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With the repairs, the complex will be more "habitable," Hayes said. Eventually the facility, which is empty, will be rented out for concerts, conventions and other events, Hayes said. Every summer on the Roundhouse grounds, a history-oriented festival named Rail Days is held, scheduled this year for July 19-20.

The Roundhouse Authority has been awarded the grant, but before any money is handed over the state Division of Highways needs to submit a letter to proceed, Hayes said.

Also, the authority is debating whether to take ownership of a trolley, which is currently titled and insured by the Berkeley County Commission.

At their meeting this morning, commissioners and Roundhouse officials are set to discuss the issue.

Hayes said Wednesday he is still trying to determine whether taking control of the trolley would be the best solution.

Howard Strauss, president of the County Commission, said all possible parties that might have an interest in owning the trolley were contacted. Only the Roundhouse Authority answered in the affirmative.

Because the $130,000 trolley was paid for with a grant, the county would hand it over to the Roundhouse for free, Strauss said.

"Our interest is to see that trolley being used," Strauss said.

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