CUMBERLAND — The Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority voted Tuesday to accept a bid of $52,400 from the local architectural firm of Chaney Architects to oversee upgrades at the Canal Place grounds.
The approval of the bid was made during the regular monthly meeting of the Canal Place board held at the Western Maryland Railway Station.
“This has generated some buzz and interest and it’s been really nice to see,” said Rick Thayer, chair of the CPPDA.
Referred to by Canal Place officials as the city marketplace project, the upgrades will consist of four electrically-wired permanent pavilions, new sign markers and posts, seven handicapped parking spots in front of the railway station as well as Americans with Disabilities Act approved linking paths between the train concourse and the festival grounds.
The Maryland Board of Public Works approved the project on Feb. 19. The upgrades will help the Farmers Market held each Saturday as well as other events held on the grounds. Canal Place officials hope the upgrades will be completed by June 7.
In other news from the meeting, Leanne Mazer, executive director of the Tri-County Council, was unanimously approved to fill the seat on the CPPDA vacated by Andy Vick.
“I think she will be an asset,” said Bob Smith, CPPDA member.
A recently completed financial audit of Canal Place for 2013 was also presented at the meeting. Ed Huber of the local accounting firm of Huber, Michaels and Co., gave a presentation of the audit for the fiscal year ending June 30.
With total expenses of $605,000 and lower than expected revenue, Canal Place had a total budget shortfall of $10,495 for FY 2013. The general fund for the heritage area ended with a balance of $133,179.
The Canal Place board also approved the extension of the deadline from April 2 to April 11, for those interested in submitting plans to develop the Footer Dye Works building.
“This will give them a little more time to pull together the proposals. We do have active proposals,” said Doug Reed of the Maryland Historical Trust.
“The weather has played into that as well,” said Thayer.
Kevin Brandt, superintendent of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, participated in the meeting via speaker phone. Brandt, a CPPDA member, shared some statistics.
“The C&O Canal National Historical Park was the ninth most visited national park site in all of the country last year,” said Brandt.
Brandt said more than 5 million visitors utilized the park during the 2013 season. This includes the entire park from Cumberland to Georgetown in Washington, D.C.
For 2014, the federal budget has included funds to allow the opening of nearly all the campgrounds in the park, according to Brandt.
Mike McKay, Allegany County Commission president and CPPDA member, has agreed to offer county inmate labor to help the park service to clear vegetation and debris from the areas around the Canal Place grounds.
The overgrown areas have become a site of unauthorized transient camping.
Canal Place officials also reminded everyone that the Heritage Area Management Plan Update will be on display this Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Allegany Museum. No speakers are scheduled.
The event will be a series of displays and tables with experts available to provide visitors information on the history of the heritage area.
Greg Larry can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.