The Northern West Virginia Brownfields Center presents $5,000 to the Capon Bridge Revitalization Group. Pictured are CBRG members Jimi Dennison, Logan Mantz, David Stutts, Mary Billings, Jack Whitacre, Ray Moeller from Brownfields, CBRG member Tim Reese and Anna Whitrow from Brownfields.
by Sydney Maurer, The Hampshire Review
CAPON BRIDGE, W.Va. – Capon Bridge’s Capon School Street has been selected as the first site to benefit from the newly reactivated FOCUS WV grant program launched by the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University.
The Capon Bridge Revitalization Group received a $5,000 check from Brownfields Economic Development Specialist Ray Moeller on Thursday, in a community meeting at the River House. Moeller said it was the first grant to made since 2012.
FOCUS WV grants support community-based programs faced with barriers to redeveloping particularly challenging sites, and Brownfields Technical Assistance Programs Manager Anna Withrow described Capon School Street as “perfect” for the program.
The street, as described in the CBRG grant proposal, is “a poorly planned jumble” of parking, traffic, pedestrians and utility poles, with two abandoned fuel tanks in the middle of it all.
Revitalization members participate in a site visit to Capon School Street.
Formerly a parking lot serving the town’s elementary and middle schools, it has been used as a street since new schools were built beyond it over 10 years ago, with no improvements made. Nothing has been done to direct traffic through the area or provide safe passage for children walking to school.
The Capon Bridge Town Council has laced funds to remedy the situation and sought help unsuccessfully. Michelle Warnick, attending as an unofficial representative of the Town Council, said she considered improvements to Capon School Street a top priority.
The pavement is in poor condition – uneven and riddled with potholes and storm drains, one of which currently lacks a grating. Warnick reported that town clerk Penny Feather is working on getting the grating repaired.
Haphazard parking serves two churches, the town’s Todd Giffin Memorial Park, and spaces leased to others by the board of education that include the country parks and recreation department’s dining and recreation areas, as well as offices for the country sheriff and assessor and the Capon Bridge station for the county ambulance service.
A Capon School Street working group reviews plans for improvement with Ray Moeller (center), Brownfields economic development specialist.
Given the number of community activities centered in the area, the Capon Bridge Revitalization Group envisions development of a “Capon Bridge Town Square” – though they will seek community input in defining what this might mean.
One possibility mentioned, once the area is organized and improved, is the addition of a Saturday farmers’ market.
The FOCUS WV grant is intended to get the project off the ground. The CBRG plans to do this is in three stages and implementing the vision as it develops will require more funding, and CRBG members already have some ideas for funding sources. Those mentioned ranged from the National Endowment of the Arts “Our Town” grants to federal programs for providing children with safe routes to school.
In the meantime, the two Brownfields staff members present at the meeting were excited about the plans for use of the FOCUS WV grant received last week.
They plan a display featuring the Capon School Street project at the 2019 WV Brownfields Conference in Morgantown Sept. 10-12. They have offered to make the same display available on site so community members can view it.