I read with interest the recent Letter to the Editor regarding the Riverfront Revitalization effort. Having served as a member of Town Council; as Liaison to the Mayor on this project; as Chair of The Parks and Recreation Department; and as a member of Rotary, I have closely observed every step of this process and offer the following facts based on my personal experiences.
The National Park Service's only involvement in this effort has been to provide technical advice and assistance on a temporary basis, and under the terms of the agreement that was entered in to, that involvement is due to end this fall. After that, the Park Service will have no connection whatsoever with, and no influence over, this effort or any other aspect of the town's business.
A town with such a small population can seldom sustain itself without broad community support that extends beyond the corporate limits. Shepherdstown is no exception. Residents and those who live just beyond her "official" borders call Shepherdstown their home. They support this town in every conceivable way and OUR town is fortunate to have all such support.
The effort to revitalize Shepherdstown's riverfront is, and has always been, locally conceived and driven. All project volunteers live in the greater Shepherdstown area and have long been active in the Shepherdstown community.
The effort has broad community support. In addition to the Rotary Club of Shepherdstown, the organizations that have voiced support for it include the Shepherdstown Business Association, the Historic Shepherdstown Commission, Friends of Shepherdstown Riverfront, Shepherd University, and the Station at Shepherdstown.
The effort was launched in a press conference that was open to the public and covered widely; representatives have since made regular reports at town council meetings, which are open to the public; a large public meeting devoted exclusively to the effort was held at the Train Station last October; and every subsequent working meeting has been announced beforehand on the town website and open to the public.
The effort is aimed first and foremost at making the Shepherdstown riverfront more inviting and accessible to the Shepherdstown community. Increased tourism is not a primary goal, and none of the ideas that being discussed would bring large numbers of new tourists to Shepherdstown in any case.
The effort at this point is not focused on any particular project, large or small. A variety of ideas are under discussion but no formal proposals have yet been made. And any proposals that are eventually made will have to be approved by the town council before they can be acted upon. As a practical matter, this means that if any highly controversial proposals are, in fact, put forward, there is no way they will be enacted.
I hope this helps clear up the misunderstandings about this effort. If anyone has any questions they can contact me any time at 304-876-6860.