Funds for Waldomore upgrades part of city excess levy
Some $200K earmarked for upgrades to city landmark.
by Jim Davis STAFF WRITER
Eidtor's note: This is the last in a series of articles on proposed uses for revenue from Clarksburg's capital improvement excess levy, which is up for renewal.
Clarksburg -- Waldomore is the stately two-story mansion at the corner of Fourth Street and Hewes Avenue in downtown Clarksburg.
Built in 1839 as the home of civic leader Waldo P. Goff, Waldomore was bequeathed by Goff's heirs to the city of Clarksburg in 1930 on condition the building be used as a library and museum, according to historical documents
The building served as the city's library until the new Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library was built next door in 1975, according to the library's website.
Now, Waldomore houses the library's West Virginia and Gray Barker UFO collections, and the first floor is used for cultural events and community meetings.
While the city landmark looks immaculate on the outside, the interior could use some work, from electrical upgrades to painting, said Jill Rafter, library director.
"Waldomore has been such a central part of the community, " Rafter said, "We want to make sure it lasts for a long, long time."
That is also the goal of the city which is including upgrades to Waldomore among the uses of capital improvement excess levy funds up for renewal.
A special election to continue the levy another five years is Saturday.
The city is in the final year of the current levy which is in addition to the regular levy
If renewed, the levy is expected to raise about $6.1 million between July 1, 2016, and July 30, 2021, according to city estimates.
Of that amount, $200,000 would go toward Waldomore repairs and improvements.
That $200,000 would be above what the city provides annually from the general fund, City Manger Martin Howe said.
Those two funds could be used as matching funds for a grant or combined with an endowment bequeathed to the library by Margaret Criswell, Howe said.
"We've partnered with the library board in the past to utilize the Creswell fund to make improvements to Waldomore," Howe said.
"We're in the stages now where many of the repairs are very costly on a historical structure such as Waldomore," he added.
Replacing the electrical wiring throughout the building is the most pressing need, Rafter said.
The building's wiring is a hodgepodge of the original knob and tube and upgrades from later periods, Rafter said.
"We really need a totally new electrical system put in," she said "Right now, we can't add anything that requires power, and we have to be careful about how we use various outlets."
Rewiring the building is expected to be costly, with previous estimates putting the project at $500,000.
"We've been seeking grant founds for that, but so far we have not been successful Rafter said. "the grants we've been applying for require a 50 percent local match.
"This money (from the levy) would hopefully allow us to have a match for grant funds," she added.
That's what the city and library board did when replacing the roof a couple of years ago. The state Historic Preservation Office provided a $139,000 grant for the $264,385 project; the city made up the difference.
The library's board of directors has approved a comprehensive plan for improvements at Waldomore, Rafter said .
But the board is hesitant to do any other interior upgrades until the building has been rewired, Rafter said.
"We have areas where plaster is seriously damaged, and we'll need to do plaster repair, Rafter said.
The building desperately needs painted inside.
"Those are the projects we're waiting to complete because the electrical project would be disruptive to some of those areas," she added.
Exterior improvements center around improving accessibility to the building, Rafter said.
That includes providing handicapped parking spaces closer to the building and adding new sidewalks lighting and drop-off area for people with mobility issues, Rafter said.
Other proposed uses for the levy funds are parks, playgrounds and other facilities managed by the Clarksburg Board of Park Commissioners, $2.4 million; improvements to streets, alleys, sidewalks and bridges, $2.4 million; new police cruisers $875, 000; and vehicles, equipment and turnout gear for the fire department, $225,000.
The Levy was passed on August 23, 2015.