Berkeley Springs Northside’s work celebrated – the Morgan Messenger
“It’s been a long time coming”
by Trish Rudder
About 50 people attended the North Berkeley Rail Trail (NBRT) celebration on Friday, September 10 to applaud the trailhead remediation – the cleanup of the contaminated patch of land north of the Berkeley Springs rail depot.
The less than half an acre plot had to be cleared to recreational standards and approved by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) before construction of the 2.2 mile trail could go forward.
The City of Bath and the Morgan County Commission have worked together for years to bring the north side of Berkeley Springs to life with the Rail Trail.
The Northside is the entrance to the city and county of Hancock, Maryland.
As part of the celebration, over 400 forsythia cuttings were planted in a trench on the east side of the trail and can be viewed from US 522, the city’s main thoroughfare.
The property was a former CSX rail yard, said Rebecca MacLeod, a member of the Rail Trail task force, who hosted the celebration.
She said the forsythia plantations have become a 225-foot-long vegetative barrier between the trail and the still contaminated land.
Foxglove Garden Club president Margaret Gordon said about 35 people planted the forsythia cuttings, of which 15 were Foxglove members.
“Today is a good day because we have been waiting for this for so long,” she said.
The wait was long and that feeling was echoed throughout the celebration.
Bath City Mayor Scott Merki said completion of part of the trail remediation “is long overdue”.
The volunteers were also congratulated by the speakers. “If it weren’t for the volunteers in this community, we wouldn’t be as advanced as we are,” said Merki.
“I’m very happy with our volunteers – the north end of Berkeley is going to burst,” he said.
John McCracken, who heads the city’s Berkeley Springs rail depot committee, has been working on rail depot renovations since 2007. He said West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who was governor at the time, had helped secure the CSX donation of the property to the city.
“It’s teamwork,” he said.
Morgan County Commission Chairman Joel Tuttle said the county has an excellent working relationship with the city.
“So many people worked on the project,” he said. He congratulated those who worked on it before becoming commissioner and those who are working on the project now.
Former city committee co-chairs Sally Marshall and Larry Lower volunteered their time to work on both the rail trail project and Streetscapes, Tuttle said, and are now chaired by MacLeod and Pete Brown.
Former county commissioner Stacy Schultz and former county administrator Jody McClintock have spent time on the rail track project and current administrator Stefanie Allemong is continuing the work, he said.
“This project was an exercise in patience,” Tuttle said.
The EPA gave the City of Bath a $ 100,000 brownfield cleanup grant that was used for this cleanup.
In a September 10 press release, interim EPA Regional Administrator for the Mid-Atlantic, Diana Esher, said :. “
“We applaud the City of Bath and its partners for mobilizing the resources to turn what was once tainted eyesight into a community asset,” Esher said.
Bath continues to go green
Part of the celebration was to announce a $ 30,000 design grant to the City of Bath for a stormwater management system on the grounds of the Berkeley Springs rail depot.
Sadie Drescher, director of restoration programs for the Chesapeake Bay Trust, said the city was one of 32 entities that received a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.
The city of Bath is a “shining example of green infrastructure,” said Drescher.
She said the Chesapeake Bay Trust has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to fund this design which has been awarded to the city.
The design will consist of the collection and recirculation of storm water runoff on the old contaminated site. It will feature the use of natural soil construction and landscaping techniques to create a stable ecosystem on the impermeable urban terrain.
Representatives of Senators Manchin and Capito and Congressman Mooney’s office addressed the audience.
Chris Strovel of Senator Capito’s office summed it up: “Berkeley Springs does so much with its volunteers.
After a reception across the street at the Cacapon Mountain Brewing Company, the celebration continued with a walking tour of about 15 people led by MacLeod and Brown.
MacLeod said she wanted to show off the latest green infrastructure on the city’s Streetscapes projects. Phase 4A was recently completed with the Washington Street planters filled with trees and plants.
The Congress Street Rain Gardens allow green infrastructure to control storm water runoff and show off the beauty of rain garden plantations.
Esher of the EPA also said in his press release that “[T]The City of Bath’s visionary approach to infrastructure should serve as a positive and lasting example for cities and towns across the country and around the world.
“The community spirit shown by Foxglove members and volunteers made this day special. It’s clear the government and agencies have been impressed with the efforts to make Berkeley Springs green, ”MacLeod said Monday.