2017-06-07 / Front Page

Town gets $100K grant for North Berkeley Rail Trail effort

by Trish Rudder

A grant of $100,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was awarded last week to the Town of Bath to clean up a parcel of land behind the train depot complex on Williams Street in Berkeley Springs.

The area is to be used as a trail head for the planned North Berkeley Springs Rail Trail.

The cleanup will focus on the 0.4 acre former CSX site within the complex, which was once used as a railroad yard and is contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and arsenic.

“It’s a little sliver that has never been mitigated for recreational use, which is about 50 feet wide in some areas and about 200 feet long,” said Bill Clark, executive director of the Eastern Regional Planning and Development Council.

Clark has been working on the rail trail project since its inception.

“I am very happy that the town received $100,000 in grant funding from the EPA, and we will finally move forward with the North Berkeley Springs Rail Trail,” said Bath Mayor Scott Merki on Monday.

He said the town and the county are working together on the project and Morgan County Commission President Joel Tuttle and Merki planned to begin discussions to go forward on Monday afternoon.

Both U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) sent out a June 1 press release regarding the total $1.6 million EPA grant funding for West Virginia projects.

“This funding will help our state revitalize properties and boost our economy to foster sustainable growth and entrepreneurship across West Virginia,” Manchin said.

And Capito added “investing in projects such as these not only improves the quality of life for West Virginians by cleaning up abandoned sites, but they can also lead to job opportunities.”

The EPA awarded $56.8 million in FY17 Brownfields assessment and cleanup grants that were awarded to 172 communities across the U.S. The EPA announcement stated “these funds will aid underserved and economically disadvantaged communities through the assessment and cleanup of abandoned industrial and commercial properties and expand the ability of communities to recycle vacant and abandoned properties for new, productive reuses.

The planned North Berkeley Rail Trail will follow the former railroad bed along Warm Springs Run from the train depot to Sandmine Road by the Berkeley Springs senior center. More than $800,000 in grants have been received for the project, which is being engineered by the state’s Department of Transportation.

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