Cumberland Times-News

February 7, 2013

Local leaders discuss city street repair

Other topics: Dam beneath Blue Bridge, fiber optics

Greg Larry
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — The mayor and city council met Thursday at the Allegany County Library on Washington Street to establish the topics to concentrate on for 2013.

The repairing of many of the city’s streets was discussed with White Avenue, Winnifred Road and Washington Street being singled out.

City Councilman Nick Scarpelli asked that the water and sewer line system beneath Washington Street become a priority.

“We have a problem there and it needs to be solved. The system there is ancient. If it goes on (without repair) it will be very expensive,” said Scarpelli.

The next major street renovation is Baltimore Avenue, a project set to begin this summer.

“After Baltimore Street is done, I think we should do Washington Street,” said Scarpelli.

The railroad bridge on Washington Street has been in question with the city and CSX debating who is to be held responsibile for the deteriorating structure.

The city has tried to get a decision from CSX but has found it difficult.

“I will attempt to make contact again with them to get some type of answer,” said Jeff Rhodes, city administrator.

The topic of the removal of the dam beneath the Cumberland-Ridgeley Bridge to create a recreational waterway was discussed. A water/sediment quality study is needed to proceed.

Scarpelli asked that the dam removal be considered a project and that the study be completed. The matter was debated with the mayor hesitating but eventually agreeing to support the study portion.

“I don’t want this competeing with other economic development opportunities,” said Mayor Brian Grim.

The water and sediment testing will cost $75,000.

Stuart Czapski, president of the Allegany Chamber of Commerce, said during public input, “It’s not a great deal of money. There are funds available. I’m surprised it’s not done by now.”

Other topics put forth included new police cruisers to replace aging ones, ways for people to retire blighted properties and ways to defray cost for emergency responses in the county.

Czapski told the group that fiber optic lines were finally here.

“Through BTOP (Broadband Technology Opportunity Program) and One Maryland Broadband Network grants and others the fiber is now here. We need to get it to the end-users,” said Czapski.

Czapski said the county has decided the U.S. Route 220 corridor is their economic priority.

The lines first added in the city will be from the new District Court building over to the public safety building.

“Garrett County is ahead of us. They asked for grants and ARC money and have a very distinct plan,” said Czapski.

After the meeting, Czapski spoke of the tremendous impact that fiber, with its high capacity abilities and speed, will be for medical, financial and all business.

The city also discussed increasing their presence on social media like Facebook and Twitter and possibly designing a new website.

“Our website is very antiquated and hard to use,” said Scarpelli.

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