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Chubb Chubb controversy is put to rest

May 20, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The controversy over a cartoon figure named Chubb Chubb was put to rest at the Charles Town City Council meeting Monday night, but new concerns were voiced about the revitalization project under way in town.

Part of the Washington Corridor Revitalization Project - a $700,000 federally funded project - involves replacing sidewalks.

Several business owners who addressed members of the council said the project may be the death of some businesses. Mostly, the sidewalks are the problem, they agreed.

On one side of the street, where the least amount of work has been done, uneven slabs of sidewalk mingled with patches of loose gravel and spray paint.

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Across the street, one block has a new sidewalk, complete with a brick border and an 8-inch drop to the street. Elsewhere, the new sidewalk is yet-to-be. For now, pedestrians must weave through orange barrels and cones. Stray too far and one might fall into crevices of churned-up dirt and steel beams. Planks leads to business doorways.

Lifelong county resident Craig Kastle told council members that he is glad he no longer lives or works in downtown Charles Town "because you people have made yourself the laughingstock."

Kastle referred not only to the revitalization project, but also to the Chubb Chubb controversy.

Chubb Chubb is the cartoon mascot of Fat Boys Subs, a locally owned downtown eatery. Chubb Chubb's gut hangs over the side of his shorts and he holds a sub above his head, about to take a bite.

Chubb Chubb has had 15 minutes of fame since members of the Historic Landmarks Commission found that the logo was not appropriate, given the historic character of the downtown.

Fines and even jail time were threatened if the shop's owners did not remove the sign from their storefront window.

City Manager Jane Arnett said Monday night that the shop now is in compliance, with Chubb Chubb positioned on an interior wall.

Nancy Lutz, who said her family has been farming in the area longer than the Washingtons - Charles Town is named for George Washington's brother, Charles - drew applause and laughter from the crowd at City Hall when she said Chubb Chubb should stay.

Although historians tend to agree the nation's first president was tall and lanky, Lutz argued that George Washington was short and fat - like Chubb Chubb.

Overall, the discussion on Chubb Chubb and the revitalization project lasted an hour. Council members did not take any action, although Mayor Randy Hilton thanked those who spoke, saying he learned some things.

Most of those who spoke wanted to know when the revitalization project will be finished. Arnett said the West Washington Street section should be finished by mid-July.

After that, George and East Washington streets will be tackled and the project should be finished by Nov. 1, she said. Rain could delay that, she warned.

Business owners asked why the project could not have been done at night, when businesses would have not been as disrupted. Councilman Randy Breeden said the main reason was that people who live in apartments above the businesses would not have been able to sleep.

Others asked if "distress funds" could be used to compensate business owners for lost revenue. Councilman Matt Ward said such money would need to come from taxpayers via the city's general fund.

Councilman Russell C. Miller tried to assuage the speakers, telling them that when the project is finished, Charles Town will boast new sidewalks, benches, trees and no overhead utility lines or poles.

"The whole thing will look beautiful for you if you can hang on," Miller said.

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