Work continues on improvements to Martinsburg's square

November 22, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • Workers prepare to lay permeable concrete pavers Tuesday afternoon in the eastbound lane of the 100 block of East King Street in Martinsburg, W.Va., while a steady rain falls.
By Matthew Umstead/Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Workers slogged through the rain Tuesday to complete pedestrian safety and aesthetic improvements to Martinsburg’s town square.

Daniel Watts, the state Division of Highways acting area engineer for the Eastern Panhandle, said the $1.6 million project could be substantially completed by Wednesday if the weather remained “suitable.”

It didn’t.

Heading into the week, work that had yet to be finished includes asphalt paving, installation of permeable concrete pavers and landscaping, among other smaller items.

And while the rain didn’t hold off, work continued in the 100 block of East King Street at the Queen Street intersection Tuesday.

Watts said last month that the Nov. 30 completion date for the contract could change due to paver modifications, as well as days lost due to rainy conditions.

Before the project was awarded to Triton Construction Inc. this year, the state anticipated the project would be completed by Oct. 31.

While visiting the project site Tuesday, Martinsburg City Manager Mark Baldwin indicated contractors only need a few more days of good weather to finish the project and might try to work through the upcoming weekend to get it done.

As holes dug for new trees collected water and puddles formed where sod has yet to be unrolled, Baldwin pointed to the recent installation of a drinking fountain on the north “lawn” of the square, and noted the delivery of benches and tables that will furnish the revamped open space.

On Tuesday afternoon, the tallest of three new flagpoles was being secured at its base on the end of the boulevard-style feature, which now separates the eastbound and westbound lanes of East King Street.

The design of the pedestrian-friendly crossing also includes a sundial to be placed in a planter just west of the flags and a veterans memorial, which was in a different location of the square before construction began.

An oval fountain in the center of the boulevard is in place, but has not been activated. A pedestal for a yet-to-be commissioned statute of city founder, Revolutionary War Major Gen. Adam Stephen, has been built in a second planter on the west end of the boulevard along South Queen Street.

The statue could not be added to the redesign of the square because the project's financing included grant funding that cannot be spent on what is considered art.  

The Martinsburg City Council earlier this month appointed Baldwin, along with City Engineer/Planning Director Michael Covell, Councilman Roger Lewis, Main Street Martinsburg Executive Director Randy Lewis, Martin Keesecker of General Adam Stephen Memorial Association Inc., town square project architect Matthew Grove of Grove & Dall’Olio Architects and artist-blacksmith Lee Badger of Anvil Works in Hedgesville, W.Va., to serve on a statute committee.

The committee, which has yet to meet, is expected to recommend a sculptor for the project after selecting three finalists to produce small-scale models of what would be their finished work.  

The city council previously approved the process for selecting a sculptor for the statute, but has yet to give final approval of funding for the artwork.

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