Harpers Ferry needs support through renewal

An editorial from The Journal 

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — If you’ve been to historic Harpers Ferry this summer, you’ve surely noted the changes that are afoot.

Lower Town, which is still working to build itself back up after last year’s devastating fire, is now in the midst of a concurrent transformation. The town’s Potomac Street project has the main vehicle and pedestrian route through the town ripped to shreds.

Parking is always at a premium in the tourist mecca, and it has become an even greater issue now that the handful of free two-hour parking spots near the town’s shops and eateries have been lost to the construction project. Sidewalks are also being torn apart as work is being done to replace them.

Summer is the peak time for tourism and commerce in Harpers Ferry, and the town certainly understands how this project is potentially hurting that. The town’s Frequently Asked Questions list about the project (http://bit.ly/2bbYuqN) contains a technical explanation for why the work couldn’t be done in the town’s “off-season,” as well as assurances to local businesses that everything possible is being done to keep them accessible to customers.

During this work, however, the Harpers Ferry Merchants Association reports some of its members have seen a 65 to 75 percent reduction in sales. Combine this with the effects of last year’s fire still being felt by Lower Town’s economy, and you can be assured those who rely on Harpers Ferry for their livelihood can’t wait for this project to be completed.

We encourage local residents to support Harpers Ferry, now and always. It may be “harder” to visit right now, but it remains a treasure of which we all can be proud. We look forward to seeing what it looks like once its makeover is complete.

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