The community of Ronceverte in Greenbrie rCounty will host the West Virginia University Community Design Team (CDT) Nov. 14-16. The CDT is a network of faculty, students and other West Virginia citizens that assists rural communities in strategizing and prioritizing revitalization efforts.
When invited by a community, the CDT staff organizes the network into a multidisciplinary team, typically consisting of 20 individuals, that conducts a weekend”charette-style”visit. The team is made up of landscape architects, transportation engineers, specialists in tourism development, historic preservation, public administration and economists who spend a day gathering information from community members and then a day formulating recommendations for the community to consider as part of a revitalization agenda.
The CDT charges a nominal fee of $3,000 which is used to cover general operating expenses and the production of the subsequent report. It is estimated that the community receives approximately $15,000 in time and expertise from the team members. During the visit, team members engage in both formal and informal information gathering sessions with the community which allows them to assess the issues and needs of the community, laying the groundwork for the recommendations.
At the conclusion of the visit, the team presents their recommendations for directing the community in its revitalization efforts. These recommendations are later formatted into a report that can serve as a physical guidebook for the community. The recommendations are in no way a mandate; the community chooses which recommendations it wants to implement.
For the visit to Ronceverte, the CDT will assemble a multidisciplinary team that will build upon the work of the Ronceverte Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC). The Ronceverte HLC has worked closely with the State Historic Preservation Office to conduct historic surveys of the communitys neighborhoods and business district. These surveys will be used for nomination of historic districts. The CDT will be taking this information, plus input from the community, to build a strategic agenda for revitalization that can be used to supplement the towns comprehensive plan.
The design team visit will begin on Thursday, Nov. 14, with a community”mixer”where the CDT members meet their host families. On Friday morning, there will be presentations by numerous community leaders followed by an afternoon tour of the town. Also on Fridays agenda will be presentations from area youth, a potluck dinner and a public meeting.
Saturday is the Design Teams workday, which will conclude with the presentation of the recommendations. The team will work all day in small focus groups and will address the issues that are presented to it during the presentations made by the community. That evening the community will host another potluck dinner followed by the CDT s presentation.
The CDT effort will not be a singular event. Intensive student work will continue during the spring semester. Graduate students from WVU s newly created Cultural Resource Management program will help the Ronceverte HLC in identifying cultural resources and in developing uses for these resources that are beneficial for the community.
Undergraduate students from the Landscape Architecture Program will be engaged in creating streetscape and rail-trail plans for the community that will become part of the communitys comprehensive plan.
The student effort is part of WVU s Service Learning Program, which works to engage students and faculty in coursework that is mutually beneficial to students and West Virginia communities. The Ronceverte service learning project has been funded by a grant from the Kellogg Foundation.
The Community Design Team is supported by WVU s Division of Resource Management in the Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences and the WVU Extension Service. The Community Design Team visit is being paid by the Ronceverte Historic Landmarks Commission through a grant provided by the State Historic Preservation Office. The Design Team visit will be a joint effort between the Ronceverte HLC , the State Historic Preservation Office and WVU to build a stronger vision for the river community.