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Design team helps town plan improvements for streetscapes

November 13, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - A planning team was looking at the Town of Bath on Friday and Saturday to come up with ideas for improving its appearance.

Members of West Virginia University's (WVU) community design team were invited by town officials to help plan physical improvements to the Town of Bath and to discuss how to best use the $200,000 Streetscape grant that was awarded in November 2004 for enhancements in the town.

Headed by the Town of Bath grants committee, groups representing local government, business, the arts, tourism and the environment presented ideas for improvement Friday at the First United Methodist Church on Green Street.

Chuck Wheeler, president of the Morgan County-Berkeley Springs Chamber of Commerce and a business owner, said the tourist-related businesses in town are "vibrant and growing," but the town and businesses need to work together to accommodate tourists.

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Not only is there insufficient parking on weekends, Wheeler said, the streets and sidewalks are in poor condition and good signage and good lighting is needed "all through town, not just in the park and the center of town."

Sally Marshall, president of Travel Berkeley Springs, echoed the parking problem in town and suggested the possibility of adding a parking garage.

Jeanne Mozier, representing the Morgan Arts Council, said there could be parking at the north end of town and people will be "thrilled" to walk to the center of town.

Town of Bath Mayor Susan Webster said the federally funded grant combines transportation needs and economic development and is great for the town because it will improve sidewalks, signage and lighting.

Webster suggested the town improvement project be done in phases and the first phase would be the four blocks in the center of town, she said.

The $200,000 grant is just the beginning for town enhancements, Webster said, and more grant funding will be targeted and improvements will be addressed for at least 10 years.

The seven-member design team was given a community tour that pointed out the focal points, and the public was invited to present ideas to them, as well.

"I always learn when I listen to people, and I think the town has shown it is open to new ideas, and that we can use those ideas to better our community," Town of Bath Mayor Susan Webster said.

A draft plan was developed by the WVU design team members, and a written report is expected in a few months, said Bob Knight, the WVU extension agent for Morgan County who coordinated the event.

The cost for the Streetscape grant study by the WVU Community Design Team is $4,000, Webster said.

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