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Riverfront Revitalization meeting brings committee members, residents

By Staff | Oct 18, 2010

The riverfront revitalization meeting was held Monday night at the Shepherdstown Train Station.

Mayor Jim Auxer opened the meeting with a brief history of the river and its vital role in the formation of Shepherdstown. He introduced the committee members who have worked for the last year to put together some ideas and a plan to discuss.

There have are five sub-committees. Each of them took turns presenting their findings and recommendations.

Dr. Keith Alexander of Shepherd University and his sub-committee investigated the history of the existing structures and ideas on using them. Since the Tobacco warehouse is in a flood plain, Alexander suggested perhaps using it for a boat storage house and reinstating the weather gauge. He also spoke of possibly adding historical markers for information as well as many other options.

“Tonight is the night to put our cards on the table and dream a little,” said Bill Howard, long-time resident and usage sub-committee member.

Attendees discussed what the people of Shepherdstown want and who would use the waterfront. A lots of ideas discussed, like schools, scouts, painters, walkers and more.

Carl Moore and his group looked at the Rumsey monument. They have a lot of recommendations on how to make that park safer, more accessible and less vandalized. He said the park and monument needs work since in just five years it will be 100 years old.

Don Loeffler co-chaired the connectivity sub-committee. When cyclists cross the Rumsey Bridge into Shepherdstown, their bike path and sidewalk stop. Some sidewalks end with five-foot drops, and Loeffler suggests some work needs to be done.

Christopher Niewold of the National Parks Service also gave an overview of his role in the project. He has supplied park resources to help with surveys, engineers, architects and geologists, among other resources. The park service agrees to work on these projects for two-year terms, and they have already used one year planning. Now is the time to ask for input, refine a plan and start looking for funds.

The ultimate goal of the entire committee is to devise a workable plan then to take that plan and look for funding and partners. They invite citizen input, and their ideas can be incorporated and “the plan” can be moved forward.

The general audience was then invited to offer their input. Many residents spoke. Residents mentioned concerns about the increased traffic and requested more information. They want to be kept informed of progress being made on this huge project. A sign up sheet was passed around to collect names and e-mails. The mayor offered to set up a link with the town’s website to get distribute information.

Meeting minutes will be recorded and played on the city hall link.

David Rosen of the Town Council said he “had been anxious about tonight’s meeting but was very pleased to hear that “the plan” is to reconnect the town with the River”

More details to follow in the Shepherdstown Chronicle on Friday.