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Article Archive >> Community

C&O Canal Association Donates $40,000 to Park Towards Repair of Big Slackwater

PHOTO CAP: Tom Perry, C&O Canal Association Chairman of the Big Slackwater Restoration Project; Tom Riford, President and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau; Kevin Brandt, Superintendent of the C&O Canal National Historical Park; and Dward Moore, First Vice President of the C&O Canal Association. Brandt accepts the $40,000 donation from Dward Moore.



C&O Canal Association Donates $40,000 to Park Towards Repair of Big Slackwater

(Hagerstown, MD): The staff and management of the C&O Canal National Historical Park joined with local officials, as the C&O Canal Association presented the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park a $40,000 donation to help fund the cost of an environmental assessment for the Big Slackwater repair project. This brings the C&O Canal Association's donations to this project to $80,000.
"Restoration of the Big Slackwater towpath will enhance visitor safety and encourage heritage tourism that will enhance local and regional economies," said Rachel Stewart, President of the C&O Canal Association. "The repair of the Big Slackwater is the priority project for the Association."
Superintendent Kevin Brandt recognized the Association for its support of the park and the Big Slackwater project, and called the donation "an important step in bringing the project to fruition."
The Convention and Visitors Bureau's Tom Riford said, "The only broken section of Maryland's largest and most-visited park is right here in Washington County, and more than 30 people have recently been injured on the dangerous detour. Once repaired, the park will draw an additional 60,000 visitors who will create an extra $2-million in economic impact. This project is significantly important for our local economy, which is why a coalition of federal, state, and local organizations and elected officials have been pushing so hard to move this project forward."
With the assistance of the C&O Canal Association and other partners including the CVB, the C&O Canal National Historical Park has completed the 30% design plans for the repair of Big Slackwater, which is the only break in the 185 mile historic canal towpath that connects Cumberland to Washington, DC. The next phase of the project is the environmental assessment. The repair of Big Slackwater is the park's highest priority repair project. It is being considered for funding through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and the supporting coalition has made formal requests to state and federal officials, asking for this targeting funding.
The Big Slackwater section of the towpath is just west of Dam #4. It was destroyed during the Hurricane Agnes flood of 1972, and damaged again during the floods of 1996. Pedestrians and cyclists have been forced to use a nearly 5 mile detour on a narrow county roadway to by-pass this closure. Over 30 people have been injured in accidents on this detour in the last five years.
The C&O Canal Association is a citizens' association concerned with the conservation of the natural and historical environment of the C&O Canal and the Potomac River Basin. The Association supports the National Park Service in its efforts to preserve and promote the 184-mile towpath and the open spaces within the C&O Canal National Historical Park.
The C&O Canal National Historical Park is a member of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Washington County is home to 5 national parks, 8 state parks, over 30 museums, and is ranked first in shopping opportunities. For more information, see: www.marylandmemories.com.

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