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Drury thinks canal projects will attract tourism

August 11, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

WILLIAMSPORT -- Williamsport Assistant Mayor Anthony T. Drury said Williamsport is going to "explode," given what the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park has in store for the Williamsport-area park.

He also talked positively about how the plans will impact tourism and the town's businesses.

Drury, who made the comments during Monday night's regular Williamsport Town Council meeting, was referring to plans for about a dozen projects that park officials have in store for Williamsport.

During a public meeting Aug. 5 at the Williamsport Community Building in Byron Memorial Park, C&O Canal National Historical Park officials laid out plans for restoring or rehabilitating the Western Maryland Railway lift bridge, the Cushwa Basin coal storage area, Lock 44, the trolley building, the Cushwa warehouse and the Conococheague aqueduct.

They also talked about letting people ride boats up and down the canal to get a feel for canal operations of the past.

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Other plans include developing walking tours in partnership with the town of Williamsport that would tie the town to the park.

Drury said Monday that park officials have said they want Williamsport to maintain its small-town character. Park officials fear that if the town changes too much, tourists might not be as attracted to the area, he said.

Drury said in an interview after Monday's council meeting that he agrees with park officials on that issue.

He also talked about the town offering tours of the historic Springfield Farm Barn as part of the spotlight on tourism.

Springfield Farm Barn, next to Byron Memorial Park, was built in 1755 by Otho Holland Williams, the founder of Williamsport.

At the suggestion of Mayor James G. McCleaf II, Williamsport Town Council members recently agreed to take $200,000 out of an account to upgrade the barn so it can be rented for special events.

McCleaf said the improvements would allow the barn to be rented for events like wedding receptions, concerts and haunted barn attractions.

Drury said some history buffs would probably be willing to pay up to $200 per plate to attend dinner events at the barn and to be able to walk through it.

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