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Harpers Ferry mayor wants to redo Potomac Street

August 05, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. -- Potomac Street, which runs past the Harpers Ferry train station, a premier street in this historic town, "is an eyesore lined with garbage containers," Harpers Ferry Mayor Jim Addy told the Jefferson County Commissioners Thursday.

Addy, along with Al Alsdorf, chairman of the Harpers Ferry foundation, asked the commissioners for $100,000 to help the town raise $330,000 for its share to qualify for a $1.7 million government grant to redo Potomac Street.

The town has raised approximately $152,000 from donations, including $40,000 from the Harpers Ferry Town Council, but it's still about $181,000 short, Alsdorf said.

He said the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd promised the grant would be approved provided Harpers Ferry comes up with its match.

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"Sen. Byrd thought restoration of this historic street was profoundly important," Alsdorf said.

The commissioners agreed that the restoration is needed.

Commissioner Jim Surkamp, who moved to appropriate the $100,000, said it would be Jefferson County's "last chance to pay tribute to Sen. Byrd," who Surkamp said has done so much for the county.

Commissioner Frances Morgan seconded Surkamp's motion, but only to put it on the table for discussion, she said.

"I want to vote for it too. It's a top priority on my list," said Commissioner Dale Manuel, "but not today." Potomac Street "belongs to the public. We need to be all together on this," he said.

"It's a great idea," chimed in Commissioners President Lyn Widmyer. She pledged to vote "for some amount of money," but not right now.

Addy reminded her that Harpers Ferry is under an Aug. 31 deadline to come up with the match or the grant will be lost.

Widmyer said the commission would vote on the request at its Aug. 19 meeting.

There was talk among commission members about giving the town $50,000, but Alsdorf said Harpers Ferry needs the $100,000."We can't do it without it," he said.

He said odds are good that the state would help if the town comes close to its goal.

Del. John Doyle, D-57th, concurred, He told the commissioners that that Gov. Joe Manchin is interested in the project. Harpers Ferry stands a better chance for state money if it gets close to the match.

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