Cumberland Times-News

Local News

February 19, 2014

Canal Place to get farmers market, improved access for handicapped visitors

Board of public works approves upgrade plan

CUMBERLAND — Maryland’s Board of Public Works approved a Canal Place plan Wednesday to upgrade the center by constructing accommodations for a farmers market and adding improved access for disabled visitors.

City Councilman Nick Scarpelli, Dee Dee Ritchie, executive director of the Canal Place Preservation & Development Authority, and Rick Thayer, authority chair, appeared before the board.

“It’s going to be more than a farmers market. It will be a city marketplace,” said Scarpelli.

Ritchie outlined the upgrades to be added to Canal Place. Four permanent pavilions with electricity will be constructed along with new signs. In front of the rail station, the plan will add seven handicapped parking spots as well as Americans with Disabilities Act approved linking paths between the train concourse and the festival grounds.

“We are here for your blessing today,” said Ritchie.

The board of public works is made up of Gov. Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp.

“We have seen our fair share of economic challenges. I believe this will be something that will spur the economy a little bit,” added Scarpelli.

The funding of $100,000 for the upgrades was initially granted to Cumberland in 2012 to place a city market concept on the downtown mall. Since the requirements stated the funds could not be used on private property, the funds were transferred to Canal Place to create a marketplace. The Canal Place grounds are public property.

Scarpelli spoke of the various vendors that could be drawn to an outdoor market at Canal Place.

“There are a lot of talented people who are in need of a venue,” Kopp told the Cumberland group.

After getting unanimous approval from the board, O’Malley spoke.

“The motion is approved. We like Canal Place,” he said.

O’Malley also took a moment to pay homage to a local official who recently passed away.

“I was in Cumberland about two weeks ago to attend a tribute to Jim Bestpitch. He was a great leader for Allegany County and Cumberland and a descendant of the Maryland 400. He was a giant personality who will be missed,” said O’Malley.

Bestpitch was the president of the Western Maryland Central Labor Council of the AFL-CIO.

Construction on the market at Canal Place will begin in the early spring, according to Ritchie. They want the facilities ready for the opening of the farmers market in May.

In other Canal Place news, the authority met on Tuesday and announced some new developments.

In an effort to fill the vacant fourth floor of the Western Maryland Railway Station, Canal Place officials have enlisted the assistance of Keller Williams Realty. Ritchie said local agent Debbie Kennedy Grim will help in filling the vacancies. Being on the top level, the fourth floor has sat vacant due to a roofing issue which has now been repaired.

Canal Place officials received some bad news during the meeting when Kevin Brandt of the National Park Service informed officials that no money was placed in the federal budget to fix the leak in the water basin.

“It’s going to remain an ongoing problem,” said Brandt.

The basin is leaking in the vicinity of the pipe transit on the Wills Creek side, causing the attraction to face a constant drain of water.

Canal Place officials also said that an open hearing on their new management plan for the heritage area will be held on March 3 at the Allegany Museum. The public is invited with the Canal Place Heritage Area Management Plan on display. The hearing will be from 3 to 7 p.m.

Greg Larry can be contacted at

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