Cumberland Times-News

Local News

May 9, 2013

Canal Place boss wants the job completed

CUMBERLAND — This June will mark one year on the job for Dee Dee Ritchie, the executive director for the Canal Place Preservation & Development Authority, who remains committed to overcoming the myriad of challenges accompanying the operation of the tourism hub.

“It needs to be finished,” said Ritchie.

Ritchie wants to see the original vision of an efficient, well designed tourism center to become a reality.

After working at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for 23 years, Ritchie came to Canal Place.

“When I worked at the DNR, I use to see this place and say, ‘I wish I could have that job.”

Ritchie has many plans for the property. During an interview at Canal Place on Thursday, she talked about everything from her current project of establishing a trailhead to the creation of a canoe and kayak river entry and even the controversial Footer Dye Works.

Some of her views, including her current take on Footer project, may surprise.

“Either the state needs to come in and put the money into it or it goes,” said Ritchie of the Footer building.

Ritchie is referring to a scenario that Canal Place may face if no developers are willint to take the property when the requests for offers go out later this summer.

A developer will be sought again in August for the historic structure, after options expire on the adjacent lot known as parcel B, freeing the property for future expansion, including additional parking.

“We can’t afford to keep taking care of it,” said Ritchie.

However, Ritchie remains optimistic, saying there are interested parties.

Currently, a top priority for Canal Place is the establishment of a trailhead for the Great Allegheny Passage at the eastern edge of the Western Maryland Railway Station.

“We are at mile zero for the towpath. We’re the midway point between Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh. We need a nice trailhead,” said Ritchie.

Ritchie said all other towns that have major trails going through them have a trailhead.

The trailhead will include new signs, disabled access, two shelters, bike racks and benches.

“We use the area a lot,” said Fred Cook, a resident of Cumberland, who was walking the trail with his wife Della on Thursday.

“It’s nice. I also jog here a good bit,” said Fred Cook.

“It does need signs. It’s not marked very well,” said Della Cook.

Ritchie has secured a meeting with CSX officials to try to establish an easement or memorandum of understanding that would allow Canal Place to utilize the railroad bridge that is currently off limits.

CSX has posted signs on the bridge that deny its use. This forces trail users to be diverted around the festival grounds only to link back to the trail at the railway station.

Ritchie hopes she can get permission to make the needed repairs to the railroad bridge and then open it so it can become one straight line.

Grants from the Maryland Heritage Area Authority and the federally funded Transportation Alternatives Program along with Recreational Trail Grants are being sought to cover the expenses.

Ritchie hopes to secure $200,000 for the improvements.

Another project Canal Place is pursuing is the establishment of a canoe and kayak entry access for the North Branch of the Potomac River. The first step, testing of the water quality, has already been ordered from the Allegany County Health Department.

The proposed location for the river entry point is about a quarter-mile east of the railway station near the road access to the towpath, off of Canal Parkway.

Ritchie has inherited a lot of challenges but remains confident.

“This is supposed to be the Mecca for tourism in Allegany County,” said Ritchie.

For the overall success of Canal Place, Ritchie feels all the pieces of the puzzle are coming together.

“The Great Allegheny Passage is now here. The scenic railroad is bringing in thousand every year and we have the canal and towpath, the festival grounds. The Farifield Inn was another part of the puzzle because we needed a place for people to stay,” said Ritchie.

“Things just need to be finished,” she said.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Easter experience Easter experience

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Game on: City interested in baseball study

    After it looked like the objection of a couple of constituents to a study on the feasibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area may have torpedoed the thought, county commissioners and some city officials sounded ready to sing a chorus of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Thursday.

    April 18, 2014

  • DEREK SHEELY Charges against helmet maker stand in case of Frostburg player’s death

    A Montgomery County judge this week declined to dismiss charges against a helmet manufacturer in a case brought by the parents of a Frostburg State University football player who died of head injuries in August 2011 following four straight days of heavy contact drills in practice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • GAYLE MANCHIN W.Va. BOE president speaks on issues at WVSDB

    West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin responded to issues at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind during an interview with the Times-News Wednesday morning.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • REGINALD REDMAN Moorefield man jailed on felony drug count

    A Moorefield man was arrested on various charges Thursday, including a felony drug offense for possession of amphetamines, according to the Keyser Police Department.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blossoming optimism Blossoming optimism

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds

    After you drive Alexander and Furnace streets then navigate a couple of switchbacks on Cemetery Road, you’d figure there would be no more uphill.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Proposed county budget holds most agencies flat

    After taking into account an income tax shortfall, Allegany County Finance Director Jason Bennett said he’ll propose a budget that holds most outside agencies to flat funding and funds the Board of Education at what county officials say are maintenence of effort levels for 2015.

    April 17, 2014

  • RYAN WOLF Wolf named 2014-15 Garrett Teacher of the Year

    Southern Garrett High School teacher Ryan Wolf has been named the 2014-15 Garrett County Teacher of the Year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock

    While giving a civics lesson at Frostburg State University on Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Delaney, congressman from Maryland’s sixth district, told students that the polarization in Congress is due primarily to redistricting and a poorly designed Congressional schedule.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook
Must Read
News related video
Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners