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Martinsburg tourism center to return to downtown address

May 20, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - After a five-year hiatus, Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention & Visitors Bureau operations will return to Queen Street in downtown Martinsburg this fall, the agency's leaders have decided.

The bureau's board of directors voted unanimously on Friday morning to sign a lease for the new, undisclosed downtown location, which was not immediately announced because the legal agreement was not expected to be finalized until next week. The actual move to the new location is not expected to happen until September, when the CVB's lease agreement with the City of Martinsburg expires, CVB Executive Director Andrea Ball said.

"The space is probably double what we have right now," board secretary Joy D. Johnson said. "We're storing things in the bathroom right now."

The bureau has leased space from the city since October 2002 at the historic B&O hotel and train station off East Martin Street. According to records maintained at City Hall, the CVB currently pays $747.86 per month for about 1,017.5 square feet. The five-year lease is set to expire Sept. 30, according to records.

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Johnson said the new space will give the CVB's three-member staff some private work space and a clear separation from the visitors center, which they believe will be much more visible and easier for tourists to find. Several blocks of Queen Street between Moler Avenue and King Street overlap the converging routes for U.S. 11, W.Va. 9 and W.Va. 45.

The new space also includes a bathroom available to the public. Visitors at the current location must use bathrooms in the train station waiting area, which is separate from the CVB's rented space, board members said.

Though somewhat hesitant to abandon the cooperation developed with neighboring tourism agencies at the train station, Reid said the conference room space in the historic building was not as private or quiet as desired.

"I feel a commitment to maybe stay here," Reid said.

In an interview in March, Ball acknowledged that the CVB's staff also experienced a few unpleasant encounters with transients and mice at the venerable station, and too often heard visitors indicate they belatedly discovered the tourism center.

Before moving to the train station, the CVB previously was in the town square on the corner of South Queen and East King streets.

City Manager Mark Baldwin was unavailable Friday, but previously had said city leaders hoped the CVB would decide to stay at the train station.

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