Public invited to offer input on cityattraction’s features

CUMBERLAND ‘” Consultants will unveil the design for the proposed Cumberland River Park on Nov. 4 and are asking for the public’s input.

‘People will be able to see what the park will look like,’ Dee Dee Ritchie, executive director of Canal Place, said. ‘We have the final draft of the River Park Implementation Study.’

The meeting will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Western Maryland Railway Station.

According to Ritchie, the design will be presented by Jim Christie, a landscape architect from Civil and Environmental Consultants, Inc., the firm that prepared it.

The river park would be located on the North Branch of the Potomac River behind Canal Place. Features could include a canoe and kayak docking site near the YMCA on Kelly Road, a whitewater course, viewing area and riverside trail.

‘People at the meeting will be able to make suggestions for additions or things that should be taken away,’ said Ritchie. ‘They can look at things that might have been missed in the study.’

Ritchie said the river park will be a boost for tourism and the local economy.

‘I think this will be tremendous for the area,’ said Ritchie. ‘We’re very excited about it. All of these years people have not been able to enjoy the North Branch of the Potomac River.’

The condition of the North Branch has been on a trajectory for improved water quality thanks to a $90 million cleanup project supported by the state of Maryland and Cumberland government.

The project, currently underway, calls for the construction of a pipeline from sewer-stormwater outfalls on the river to the John J. DiFonzo Wastewater Reclamation Facility in South Cumberland to be treated.

Cumberland has an aging piping system that features combined sewer and storm lines. During heavy rains, pressure on the antiquated system builds and the effluent is released into the Potomac at stations known as CSO Outfalls. The pipeline would carry effluent from the large Mill Race Outfall behind Canal Place to the wastewater treatment plant, preventing dumping of the effluent into the river system.

‘Now that the river is on its way to be much cleaner … and they are putting the pipeline in, the water quality will be improved quite a bit,’ said Ritchie. ‘This is a huge boost for the health of the river.’

Ritchie said additional environmental concerns are also being analyzed.

‘I have grant money for testing (the sediments) of the river bottom,’ Ritchie said. ‘That will likely be our next step. I need more of the grant money to go but it will test for the presence of industrial contaminants.’

Ritchie thinks the River Park will stimulate the local economy.

‘I think it will bring more tourists to the area and it will bring entrepreneurs,’ she said. ‘It will also help our existing businesses. People will have more reasons to come along with our trails (Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal towpath) and the scenic railroad. Now they can ride the river and our area will benefit from it.’

Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.