Cumberland Times-News

July 20, 2013

Canal Place

Heritage area’s full potential can still be realized

Cumberland Times-News

— The old saying is, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”

That basically is what the Maryland Heritage Area Authority has told local officials who are planning to expand the Canal Place Heritage Area: You don’t have enough people to do what you want to do, and you don’t have enough money.

This came as a surprise to the Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority, which was nearing completion of an ambitious plan for the heritage area, which already includes portions of downtown Cumberland, Canal Place and the C&O Canal. It would be expanded to include areas along state Route 51, the National Road and scenic railroad byways, state Route 36, the Great Allegheny Passage and the historic districts of Mount Savage.

The Canal Place authority has a staff of three full-time employees, and their expansion plan would include development of a uniform name, a logo, signs, products and marketing programs.

Other plans include creation of a handicapped-accessible trailhead at the south end of the Western Maryland Station — a significant place that marks the halfway point between Pittsburgh and Washington and the launching place of the C&O Canal. The trailhead would include bike racks, shelters, picnic tables and signs and a railroad-themed playground that reflects the area’s history.

Canal Place has enormous potential, and putting these plans into effect would go a long way toward realizing it.

That’s going to take money, hard work and probably a good deal of imagination, but the benefits to our area would make the effort worthwhile. We encourage the Canal Place authority staff to keep working toward their dream.