Mega workshop to focus on Ranson's future

August 29, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |

RANSON, W.Va. — An unprecedented $1.5 million, seven-day mega workshop beginning Sept. 8 and run by a team of international consultants will chart a course designed to guide Ranson’s growth for the next 100 years.

Andrew P. Blake, Ranson’s acting city manager, said Ranson Renewed, which runs from Sept. 8 to 14, will result in a new master plan and zoning rules by the end of 2012. The results of the workshop will provide a blueprint for applying for grants to fund major projects, Blake said.

The workshop is encouraging participation from local residents, officials and businesses. It opens at 7 p.m.  Sept. 8 in the Washington High School auditorium with a keynote speech by former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, who is representing the Smart Growth Leadership Institute.

Glendening’s remarks will be followed by some from Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Ranson’s total $1.5 million appropriation includes grants from the federal EPA, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Department of Transportation.

“Ranson is the only city in the country to get grants from all three agencies,” Blake said.

The Ranson-Charles Town community will serve as a national model.

Only four U.S. cities — Boston, Denver, Atlanta and Ranson — were represented at a status report meeting on the grant program this spring in Charlottesvile, Va., that Blake attended.

The larger cities want money to revitalize a block or a neighborhood, he said.

“In our case, we’re trying to transform an entire city.”

The grant program stems from the Obama administration’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities initiative, which combines the resources and expertise of the EPA, HUD and DOT to promote more livable communities.

The workshop’s consultants will glean ideas from residents, business leaders and local officials to guide Ranson, Charles Town (W.Va.) and Jefferson County in planning for the next 100 years.

The federal grants will pay for planning and engineering costs for such projects as the Fairfax Boulevard-George Street Corridor, designing a new commuter center at the historic Charles Washington Hall (longtime home of the Shu Chen Restaurant on the square) and the revitalization of the former Badger-Powhatan foundry complex between Ranson and Charles Town, Blake said.

On Sept. 9, residents and consultants will break into focus groups to brainstorm ideas. On Sept. 11, the consultants will display working drawings at the Independent Fire Hall. There will be a joint meeting of the Ranson and Charles Town city councils the next night and a closing presentation will be Sept. 14 at the Old Opera House, Blake said.

The large third-floor community meeting room in Ranson City Hall at 312 S. Mildred St. has been set up as a work area for the consultants.

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