Redesign of Martinsburg's square could be done by Halloween

March 29, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Martinsburg’s town square could have a new “green” look by Halloween.

The redesign of the town center at King and Queen streets is projected to be completed by the end of October, according to the West Virginia Department of Transportation’s advertisement for the project.

Contractors’ bids for the work are scheduled to be opened by the state agency on April 20, transportation department spokesman Brent Walker said Tuesday.

The project is part of the city’s downtown plan, which was adopted in 2004. The redesign includes pedestrian safety improvements at the busy intersection, new landscaping, green spaces in the 100 block of east King Street and a small amphitheater-like stage for performances.

The city has committed $173,208 for the new square and has received an additional $692,835 in matching state and federal grant money for the project, according to City Manager Mark Baldwin.

The “town green” design has been estimated by engineers to cost about $780,000.

“Obviously, this is something we’ve been looking forward to ... to get the project under construction,” Baldwin said Tuesday.

Because of cost projections, the transportation department’s advertisement includes a base bid that omits some of the new square’s design features, said architect Matthew Grove of Grove & Dall’Olio Architects PLLC.

Grove & Dall’Olio assisted Chester Engineers with the project.

“In the end ... a number of things were pulled out of the base bid,” Grove said.

Aside from excavation, drainage infrastructure and landscaping work, the project advertisement asks contractors to bid on some proposed furnishings for the square as “alternate” sections that Grove confirmed might not be included.

“It’s a tight budget,” Grove said.

The alternate features include an oval fountain, eight benches, five tables/awnings, relocation of utility poles, concrete pavers for the roadway and stone pathways, according to the advertisement.

 A statue of city founder Revolutionary War Maj. Gen. Adam Stephen that was envisioned in the design was not included in the advertisement because the Transportation Enhancement and American Recovery and Reinvestment grants awarded cannot be used to fund art, Grove said.

If the oval fountain and some other alternate features cannot be incorporated with the current project, they could be added later, Grove said.

The fountain was designed to be part of a boulevard-like feature that is expected to divide traffic lanes on East King Street and improve pedestrian safety for the crosswalk there.

Main Street Martinsburg Board President Mark Jordan said the prospect of construction on the square beginning this summer prompted the organization to relocate some activities.

The seasonal farmers market will be moved to the Queen Street entrance of the city’s East Burke Street parking lot, Jordan said.

“I think (the new square) will be an anchor for our downtown,” Jordan said.

Main Street is a volunteer-driven program focused on revitalization and preservation of the city’s historic commercial district.

When the square is completed, Main Street hopes to hold a number of events, including monthly concerts to bring more people there, if only for lunch, according to Jordan.

The proposed project design, which was presented to city leaders last summer, proposed the creation of about one-quarter of an acre of green space on the north and south sides of East King Street. Baldwin said he does not know whether the city will be able to use any credits for reducing stormwater runoff.

The green space will replace several parking spaces in the square, but parking would be expanded in the BB&T bank parking lot behind the project site.

Earlier this month, the Martinsburg City Council approved a joint use agreement with the bank as part of the redesign project.

Aside from the square project, Baldwin said he hopes the city will be able advertise a gateway and directional signage system that will help visitors reach prominent cultural sites in the city’s historic core.

The city needs to obtain approval from WVDOT for locating some of the signage along state routes that go through Martinsburg, Baldwin said.

Baldwin said the city also is planning to repaint the decorative street light poles in the downtown business district.

Designs to replace the lighting as part of an energy-efficiency project the city launched in December have been approved, Baldwin said.

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