$22 million ‘vision’ for biz park, rail spur

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$4.5 million for trains first

ROMNEY — A Thrasher Engineering rendering of a master plan for the future of Romney Business Park was unveiled during Hampshire County Development Authority’s meeting last Wednesday, Feb. 20.

The $22 million vision encompasses a train depot, a 70,000-square-foot shopping village, a scenic overlook, walking trail and a zip line, parking and recreational areas and improvements to sidewalks and roads.

Initial construction would focus on the rail spur, which is estimated to cost $4.5 million.

RomneyBusinessParkMasterPlan

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The $4.5 million covers everything from excavation to stream and wetland mitigation and from seeding and mulching to the actual rail spur extension (s).

There are three rail spurs listed in the probable construction costs.

The estimated cost to build rail spur number one, which is an extension to the rail depot, is $840,000. A rail spur extension to the planned service yard, number two, would be $480,000 and the “Y” rail connection to the northeast is also estimated to cost $480,000.

The total construction cost includes a 10-percent construction contingency of $347,000.

Included in the master plan is a train station-village, which is a shell space for outside investors. The construction cost is estimated at $9.5 million for the facility.

The rental village will be designed from the historical character of the Romney area.

A replica of the old Romney depot is estimated at $300,000.

Other groups have expressed an interest in being part of the park as well.

One Romney group is interested in building a pavilion complete with picnic table along Route 28 that would overlook the park.

Another entity would like to see an amphitheater constructed.

Rick Harshbarger, chief executive officer of the Potomac Center, said the center has a natural, ready-made bowl below the center, which is perfect for concerts.

“I have always envisioned doing something there some day,” said Harshbarger.

“An amphitheater would benefit the center and Hampshire County if appropriate funding could be secured. I am interested in the planning process to see where it leads.”

Construction and design of parking lot(s) and a 12,000-square-foot service shed are estimated to cost $5.7 million.

Infrastructure to design and construct water and sewerage lines, drainage and more is nearly $1.2 million.

Extending the Armory Road by 600 feet would cost $180,000.

The 9,000-foot long, 6-foot wide walking trail is estimated to cost $270,000.

A scenic overlook that will include a pavilion and accessories is estimated at $100,000 and an amphitheater at $200,000.

The park has about 35 acres that remain for sale.

Currently, Kevin Carr and Romney Cycle own about nine acres of the park. Two acres surround the 30,000-square-foot building owned by Hampshire County Special Services, referred to as building C on the master plan.

Gourmet Central is in 7,500-square-feet of the 25,000-square foot building B as identified on the plan. Other businesses in that multitenant building owned by the development authority include Dillion’s Furniture Warehouse, which occupies 10,000-square-feet, and Imhauser, which occupies 2,500-square-feet.

The authority is seeking funding from the West Virginia Railroad and Intermodal Enhancement Authority.

The fund was created in 2008 by the state Legislature, which set-aside $4 million annually for the sole purpose of funding construction, reconstruction, and renovation and or relocation of rail spurs to connect them to greater forms of transportation, according to Doug York, executive director of the West Virginia Port Authority.

The rail project has York’s support. It also has the support of Cindy Butler, director of the West Virginia State Rail Authority.

York said he, Butler and West Virginia Department of Transportation secretary Paul Maddox met and discussed the Romney project.

Application for funds will be under review in March.

York said assessments would determine how many jobs the project would create, what kind of added asset the project would be to the community and the funds available.

He said depending on the 11-member board’s decision a vote may be taken on awarding the funding in March.

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