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Are we erasing Shepherdstown’s charm through Town Hall, Streetscape projects?

By Staff | Jan 16, 2009

This letter is in response to the request for comments regarding the new Town Hall project. The only time I use town hall is to attend meetings that involve a matter in which I am interested. For this purpose it seems that the current conference area is adequate. For large town meetings there is always the Entler or the Train Station, both of which are owned by the town.

As the streetscape is evolving, I am increasingly concerned that the town is losing its old fashioned charm. With the enormous amount of concrete being poured, I am afraid we will become so citified that we will not recognize our old town. These comments relate to the possibility of a large, shiny, new town hall. The present town hall is a major part of the fabric of the community. It has been here as long as any of us now living here can remember. It is certainly not important looking, but then there is no reason for it to be. The town hall is of a very unusual and special type of construction – cast concrete, which in itself merits retention as an example of respect for the traditions of the town. I think every effort should be made to retain it, with necessary additions to create the needed additional space.

When looking at the present building it seems possible to add a wing on the side on the vacant adjoining lot, which the town acquired several years ago. With the slope of the land on the side, it should be possible to create a lower level English basement with minimal excavation, thereby ending up with a two-story wing. The police department could go there. There would be no parking problem because the town owns the lot up the alley. When considering adding a story to the present building, you end up with a more massive appearance and have a handicap access problem. Do we really want the added expense of an elevator in town hall? In addition, as we are seeing with streetscape project, construction estimates are usually way off the mark, so why spend more than is necessary to create the needed extra space.

I do hope the Building Commission will carefully consider this alternative to tearing down the old town hall and building a brand new one. We are rapidly losing the wonderful, quaint charm that brought us all here.

Joseph O. Matthews

West German Street