By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
7:22 PM EST, January 26, 2013
An architect’s plans for installing restrooms at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad roundhouse and shops in Martinsburg are about ready to be put out for bid.
The Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority on Saturday authorized architect Matthew Grove to advertise the project to contractors after board members reviewed drawings and various material options.
Grove said the work could take between 75 and 150 days to complete. Grove told board members he indicated the project could be put out to bid next month.
The facilities are to be built in the part of the complex known as the “hyphen,” which connects the 16-sided West Roundhouse to the Frog & Switch shop building. The plans presented Saturday did not include a family restroom, but Grove said changing stations are planned in both the men’s and women’s restrooms.
The board separately approved a waterline contract Saturday that will tie into the restroom project.
Roundhouse Authority Chairman Clarence E. “CEM” Martin III, who advocated for using natural gas to reduce utility costs, said he would like to have the restrooms in place for the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival in October.
The festival’s arts and crafts show and other activities are expected to be held at the historic railroad industrial complex for the second consecutive year.
In other business, the authority agreed to pay Executive Director Rosetta Chiofalo $5,000 annually to help offset travel and office expenses.
Chiofalo has been volunteering her services since the authority was unable to pay her due to financial troubles.
“I basically fired myself when we ran out of money,” said Chiofalo, who has been working for the authority for about five years.
Circumstances for the nonprofit public corporation have improved since the authority reached an agreement last year with the West Virginia National Guard to lease the Bridge & Machine shop building at the 13.6-acre industrial complex.
The National Guard lease agreement was projected to be worth more than $500,000 over five years to the authority. Installation of the restrooms was a commitment that the authority made to land the National Guard as a tenant, Martin has said.
While the authority was awarded a $585,684 grant for the planned improvements, it had been struggling to get matching money to draw down the awarded transportation funding.
With the new revenue stream, the authority not only has moved forward on the restroom project, but also has been able to settle old debts.
On Saturday, the board authorized Martin to finalize an agreement to pay off a $100,000 debt that is owed to Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. for the pedestrian bridge that was built over the CSX rail line to connect the roundhouse complex to Caperton Train Station off East Martin Street.
Payments of $25,000 are to be made to the contractor over four years, Martin said. The board in October approved a separate agreement to pay $150,000 owed to BB&T Bank.
The historic industrial site, which the authority is charged with preserving and redeveloping, is where the first national strike of rail workers began in 1877. The restored complex that stands today replaced railroad shop buildings that Confederate Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson ordered to be burned in 1862.
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