Steps to securing a bike path along Route 480 from Lowe Drive to the stoplight at Alternate 45 moved in a positive direction this week as the Jefferson County Commission voted to commit to providing a portion of the match required to secure grant funding.
The grant could potentially come from the state via Transportation Enhancement funding. Shepherdstown Recorder Lori Robertson is heading up the grant application which calls for an 80/20 match to be considered for the funds. The preliminary bid on the project came in at a cost of $538,599.40, Robertson told commissioners during Thursday's meeting. The match for that would be $107,719,88.
Shepherdstown asked the commission to commit to to just under $76,000 of the funding 70 percent of the match needed, which the commission agreed to do after a lengthy debate on where they may secure the funds. The Corporation of Shepherdstown voted at their meeting Tuesday evening to commit to the remaining 30 percent.
County Commissioner Walt Pellish was the first to speak on the request during Thursday's meeting indicating that he was "100 percent in favor of the project." Pellish did have reservations about where the funding sought from the county would be taken. He raised the possibility of others giving financially to the project including Clarion Hotel owner Ken Lowe and Morgan's Grove Market owner Peter Corum.
"We as a commission are not in the best financial straits," he said. With finances in mind, Pellish attempted to have Lyn Widmyer make a motion to redirect funds that had been approved for a pavilion and Veteran's memorial under the auspices of the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Department and have those funds go to the bike path. Those funds had originally been earmarked for the Shepherdstown Battlefield project and when the dollars were not needed there, the commission voted to use the funds at Sam Michael's Park. Commissioners failed to consider those funds.
Instead, County Administrator Debbie Keyser was instructed to search other venues for the funds including the Coal Severance account. The funds are not needed in hand immediately and, should the grant not be awarded, the funds would not be needed at all.
Patsy Noland commented on her support of the project.
"This is an immediate solution to a problem in existence for along time," she commented with regard to safety issues of pedestrian and bike travel along the roadway.
Mayor Jim Auxer, who commented during the commission meeting, says he sees this as an opportunity for the town and the county to work together.
"This allows the county and the town to get together to work something out for the common good," he said.
Deadline for the grant application is March 15 and could take up to six months or more before notification of an award would come, Robertson said. There is significant competition for the Transportation grants. The agreement between the county and the town to commit to the matching funds may help Shepherdstown secure the funding it needs for the project.