Cumberland Times-News


February 17, 2009

Canal Place rewatering may not be best tourism solution

CUMBERLAND — The C&O; Canal rewatering project is not the solution to drawing visitors to Cumberland, said Andy Vick, chairman for the Canal Place Preservation & Development Authority. There are many other places where people can experience a boat ride, such as Georgetown and Great Falls, and they are also close to the metro area.

This was one of the main topics covered at the authority’s orientation and visioning session Tuesday.

Vick said there is also a concern with the visual experience upon leaving the grounds as well as the cost to rewater the canal. However, ideas are in the works to cut down costs.

Frank Fowler, general superintendent of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, is in conversations with CSX as to whether CSX needs the tracks that cross the C&O; Canal. If not, then there will be no need to construct a tunnel to allow rewatering, he said.

Fowler will give an update to the authority’s board members at the next meeting.

Vick said until the authority knows how that will play out, rewatering will remain on hold. He said he does not want to spend the money to build a tunnel that may not be needed.

Even with the potential of cutting down the cost, Vick doesn’t believe that rewatering the canal is the best way to bring in tourists.

“In the short term, I think there are other things that would be more advantageous to help Canal Place grow and also be at a lower cost to us,” he said. “However we’re continuing to look at rewatering the canal.”

Vick said with the need to repair the dry dock canal boat, the idea to re-create the C&O; boat yard was brought to the authority’s attention.

“We have the opportunity to re-create the boat yard here,” Vick said. “It would create an experience more unique than a boat ride. And it would help us attract visitors here to experience something they can’t experience anywhere else.”

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