Mosaic path is part of TS&T plan

LOCAL NEWS MAR 3, 2016   CHESTER – With construction at the Taylor, Smith & Taylor site set to begin in April, economic development officials are setting their sights on ways to make the former brownfield more attractive. The Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle, the TS&T property owner, is applying for a $435,000 grant for the development of a mosaic path along the Ohio River waterfront. While landscaping and greenspace have always been a part of the plans for TS&T, this is the first time the BDC has pursued funding for aesthetic improvements to the once-blighted property. “We’ve always wanted to have a pedestrian connection to link the (Upper End) neighborhoods to the business district,” BDC Executive Director Patrick Ford said. “We consider this an exciting component of our development plan.” Ford said the trail will include old pottery shards from the TS&T plant as a way to pay tribute to Chester’s pottery-making heritage. “We have shard remnants that we kept when we cleaned up the site (in 2012). A lot of that material is in storage in Chester,” he said. “We would include them in the paving material for the path itself, plus art and history displays that talk about pottery making in Chester.” The application to the ArtPlace America National Creative Placemaking Fund includes a three-minute YouTube video that explains the three phases of the proposed project: 1) The design and build of a mosaic path along the waterfront. 2) The grading and construction of a path to connect the Upper End to existing paths below the Jennings Randolph Bridge. 3) The improvement of existing paths under the bridge, including the design and build of a foot bridge and stairway. The entire plan covers the area from Ninth Street on the east to River Avenue on the west, and from Carolina Avenue on the south to the Ohio River on the north, according to the YouTube video. “The site’s visibility, which once exposed blight and contamination, will now exhibit the rich cultural heritage of pottery and art in the community,” the video said. “Attractive views of the walk from the bridge and neighborhood will redefine the neighborhood as a healthy and alluring place to live, work and play.” Details of the competitive grant application were unveiled last week to the Rock Springs Redevelopment Task Force, an ad hoc group of Chester residents that provided input on the proposal. Ford said that two previous donors – the Pittsburgh-based Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the Morgantown-based Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center – encouraged the BDC to pursue funding for a pedestrian/bicycle connection. Meanwhile, groundbreaking for a build-to-suit building on the TS&T site is still scheduled for April. The BDC hopes to have a solid prospect identified by the time the building is completed in August.