Rebuild Marlinton Task Force chairman Steve Weir wants local residents to contact their state elected representatives to urge approval of funding for the redevelopment of downtown Marlinton. Weir said as much as $150,000 could be obtained for planning purposes if the political will is present in the Legislature.
The task force, a town government committee, met at Marlinton Municipal Building on February 24. Members in attendance were Weir, Mayor Joe Smith, Recorder Robin Mutscheller, Phillip Cain, Cara Rose and Dennis Driscoll. Terry Price with Region IV Jobs Development Council, participated via teleconference.
Weir told the group he had met with Senator Clark Barnes on February 21 to discuss the funding request.
“I told him we weren’t going to be taking the traditional approach, that we weren’t going to be satisfied with something that just put new bricks down on the sidewalk and new lamp posts in,” he said. “But we are looking more for a long-term strategy for the redevelopment of Marlinton – and not just Marlinton – but how Marlinton fits as a part of the region and where the opportunities are to network as a community. We aren’t going to de-emphasize Marlinton, but we want to look at how everybody works, as a system.”
Mutscheller asked Weir what Barnes thought about the prospects for obtaining the money.
“The first thing he said was he said he couldn’t promise anything,” said Weir. “But after we had our discussion, he thought that we might be able to make a fairly strong case for it.”
Weir said Barnes was setting up a meeting with the Senate Finance Committee, when task force members can argue their case for funding. Weir and Mutscheller said local residents should contact their state elected officials to urge their support for the funding request.
The task force discussed the status of the Marlinton Rail Depot, a key feature of downtown Marlinton. The historic structure is owned by the non-profit Marlinton Rail Depot Corporation (MRDC). Mutscheller said donated materials and volunteer labor had been offered to help complete the interior of the building.
“For months, we’ve had someone who has agreed to donate the lumber for flooring and two contractors who are considering putting the flooring down, and a donor who’s willing to help purchase materials that are required,” she said. “It would be good if we could get that finished.”
Rose said she had attempted, to no avail, to contact MRDC board members about a plan for the CVB to utilize space in the depot.
“We still need to have a discussion about that,” she said. “I haven’t heard a word from anybody.”
Smith, the MRDC board secretary, said he mistakenly thought he had replied to Rose’s inquiry about the use of the depot. The mayor said the MRDC would take action to move the depot project forward soon.
“There is some potential and we’ve had some meetings on it recently,” he said. “There’s going to be a movement made over there shortly.”
The next Rebuild Marlinton meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 3 at 9 a.m.