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River committee talks funding

By Staff | Feb 4, 2011

Though the inclement weather earlier this week kept the members of the Riverfront Revitalization Committee from gathering in person, the group took to the phones Tuesday to continue its planning.

Chris Niewold from the National Park Service presided over a nearly hour-long call and approximately 10 parties participated.

Much like last week’s meeting, discussion centered on how to get the group’s name and mission out to the public for additional support and transparency and what plan of action should be taken in the short term to work toward its ultimate goal. But for the first time, potential funding options were discussed.

At the suggestion of Niewold, the group specifically discussed the feasibility of hiring a landscape architect to draw up specs of the riverfront project that could be used as part of the group’s proposal in presentations to the town council, for example.

Lois Turco, who helps head up group’s communications team, agreed.

“Visualization is really a key,” she said.

During the call, Turco, who is also a board member for Jefferson County’s Washington Heritage Trail, encouraged the group to consider some of the smaller projects that can be achieved with grant money the town was awarded through the Washington Heritage Trail byways program.

She said the Washington Heritage Trail is a federal program that receives partial funding from the Federal Highway Department and works in cooperation with the state to “highlight the Washington family story throughout the Panhandle” by way of recreation trails in historic sites.

As part of her work on the board, Turco represents the interests of Shepherdstown.

“I look for opportunities to enhance Shepherdstown’s visibility on the trail,” she said.

Turco wrote a grant in 2009 for $22,000 to the town of Shepherdstown to improve the appearance and structural capabilities of Rumsey Park in connection to the trail. In 2009 and 2010, the Coporation of Shepherdstown received a $4,780 reimbursement with grant money for work done at Rumsey Park.

This work was not initiated in connection with the riverfront project, which Turco explained “hadn’t really started” but has set the groundwork for the additional improvements to be made. This work included the installation of electrical services for lighting, tree removal and work and the installation of directional signs at the park.

Though this grant can only be used for work done at the monument and not other riverfront sites, with $15,000 left Lois encouraged the committee to pursue potential uses of that money.

She said 80 percent of the grant can be reimbursed to the town, which will leave $12,000 for use. A reimbursement can only be awarded after work on a project is complete.

Turco advocated using the funds for ventures previously discussed by the group that can be completed quickly, like fixing the stonewall or interpretive signs near the monument and providing a handicap access rail .

Though the grant money may be beneficial to the group, Turco conceded, “Since our project has not gone before the town council who knows what kind of funding is needed.”

The committee will meet Feb. 14 at 10 a.m. at the Shepherdstown Train Station and is open to the public.