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Locals push kiosk

By Staff | Mar 18, 2011

Two Shepherdstown residents returned to the town’s Historic Landmarks Commission for review of their building permit application after the planning commission denied approval last month based on lack of recommendations from the HLC.

Lois Turco and Meredith Wait, representatives of the Canal Towns initiative, want to erect a three-sided information kiosk to attract visitors to the town. It would sit on a piece of land along Rt. 480 where North Duke Street begins by the bridge overlook.

Turco and Wait were at Monday’s meeting with new information for the HLC.

Wait said they had discovered since the Feb. 21 planning commission meeting that the piece of land is actually along a road owned by the state. This means that town governing bodies have no jurisdiction on the matter.

HLC Chair Hank Willard said if the area is a Department of Highways right of way, then the state has a say if the kiosk goes up.

Zane Paitsel, district right of way agent for the West Virginia DOH, verified that the parcel of land is along state-owned road, and the applicants, if they would like to erect a structure, would have to apply for a permit

through DOH’s maintenance office.

When it came time to craft a motion, since the application would still go on to planning commission, Zoning Officer Harvey Heyser offered advice.

“The planning commission repeatedly felt uncomfortable moving forward (at their last meeting) without the recommendation of the landmarks commission,” he said. “And at your last meeting, you really didn’t have sufficient information to understand what you were looking at.”

Willard made a motion that while it is clear the applicants’ request is not within the town’s purview, he recommended that the applicants bring the final copy of what will be displayed on the kiosk to the commission. The motion passed unanimously.

Turco and Wait agreed and said they still would like to work with the town in some way.

“We would like to have input,” Wait said. “This is going to be part of the community.”

The Canal Towns initiative, Turco and Wait explained to the HLC, engages the different towns connected to the C&O Canal.

“We’re kind of in a partnership with all of these towns,” Wait said. “It’s pretty cool.”

The kiosk’s purpose, which is the next step of Canal Towns, will be situated next to canal paths to encourage recreational users to visit the towns. Each kiosk will have similar looks, with a map, a business and services panel and a panel about the town.

“We’re trying to do a branding or a look that people will recognize,” Wait said.

There will be a panel about Shepherdstown’s history, and Turco thinks this can be a way to attract people.

“We want to draw people in with the history,” she said.

Turco thinks associating the town’s past and present will keep visitors.

Wait and Turco said the Corporation of Shepherdstown will not have to foot any bills for such an informational kiosk.

A company called CSX is giving a $2,500 grant to the participating Canal Towns, and Wait said that the local business association and Shepherd University will help pay for the rest. According to the latest application Turco and Wait submitted, the estimated cost of the project is $3,500.