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Cement mill’s future in county HLC hands

By Staff | Jul 8, 2011

After the Jefferson County Commission voted 3-2 at the end of June to not go through with the purchase of the cement mill outside of Shepherdstown, the project was handed over to the county historic landmarks commission.

“It’s not dead,” said county historic landmarks commissioner Martin Burke. “The process continues.”

And Burke said he hopes the acquisition of the land – which county officials at one point talked about handing over to the National Park Service – is done quickly. He said since the project has been in HLC’s hands, things have been happening on a “minute-by-minute basis.”

“My hope is that by the end of the month we have a definite answer,” Burke said.

Patsy Noland, county commission president, said after the commission rescinded its position on the project, the $100,000 in taxpayer money the county set aside to go towards the purchase of the cement mill property is no longer on the table; however, there is still approximately $325,000 left for negotiations.

The Department of Transportation provided two transportation enhancement grants, totaling $200,000. The Civil War Trust agreed provide $100,000 of matching funds, and Delegate John Doyle, D-Jefferson, has said he would put approximately $25,000 of community participation project funds towards the purchase.

And Burke said though the official deadline for the DoT grants ran out last week on June 30, there was indication for an extension because appraisal of the land took some time.

Jeff Harpold, of DoT, said the deadline could be extended, also because the scope of the project changed over the years. Before county commission considered the purchase, Jefferson County Parks and Recreation was originally approached by Ed Dunleavy, president of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association, in late 2009 to take the lead on the property’s purchase.

The parks and recreation commission also had the original appraisal done. The latest appraisal value was $339,000, and according to Burke, the Department of Highways determined that was fair market value.

And, Burke said though he has been in contact with the NPS, there is no definite answer yet if the entity will take over the property if the opportunity arises, though he said NPS officials continue to “express interest.”

NPS is currently conducting a resource study on the land, which was part of the Shepherdstown Battlefield, to determine if it is linked to the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park or Antietam National Battlefield. More information on the study can be found at http://planning.nps.gov/document/criteria05final.pdf.