Snow Hill’s Opera House Renovation Eyed

SNOW HILL — The town of Snow Hill is “coming back alive” in terms of economic and community development, according to Mayor Charlie Dorman. Meeting with the Worcester County Commission Tuesday, Dorman requested for fiscal year 2014 $700,000 in grant funding, an increase of $300,000 from last year with $200,000 of that earmarked for Old Opera House renovations.

“I want to say the town of Snow Hill is coming back. It’s a wonderful place to live,” he said. “The council and myself and the town manager are all on the same page. We have a vision for Snow Hill that we want to put forward.”

Dorman outlined a few of the new events and attractions Snow Hill is building to try to become a “destination” on the Eastern Shore. Come this spring the town will be hosting its first annual “Cupcake Chunking,” an unusual variation on the traditional pumpkin chunking. Couples are also being targeted by town leadership.

“Snow Hill is going to be a wedding destination,” promised Dorman. “You’ve got to come to the courthouse to get your license, we’ve got bed and breakfasts where you can stay, we’ve got wonderful restaurants and it will all be put together in a package.”

The Old Opera House building on the corner of North Washington and West Market streets is also being marked as a means to attract new visitors. However, due to its age, the building needs renovations.

“This building has begun to deteriorate over the years and being in the center of the town, as well as across the street from your governmental center, we feel it prudent to rehabilitate this structure to encourage tourism and economic development,” wrote Dorman.

The town has estimated that replacing the roof and “stabilizing” the building will cost roughly $200,000, which Dorman requested that the county fund. Total construction costs are ball-parked at $1.5 to $2 million and Snow Hill is seeking avenues to gather that money, including grants.

Another big cost for the town is its wastewater treatment plant and other basic infrastructure.
“Our infrastructure in the town is just terrible,” Dorman said.

Tying up costs with the wastewater plant and road improvements will require extra funding, said Dorman.

“While most of the expense was grant funded, we still have seen some significant expense on our part,” he wrote of the wastewater plant. “We have various street issues that need to be addressed, as well as other operational expenses that have increased each year.”

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