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Improvements to town square eyed in Wellsburg | News, Sports, Jobs


IMPROVEMENTS EYED — On Tuesday, the Wellsburg Urban Redevelopment Authority announced it has secured grants to improve the city’s town square and to determine options for the rehabilitation of three vacant buildings at the corner of the square and Charles Street. — Warren Scott

WELLSBURG — On Tuesday, Wellsburg Council learned the city’s urban redevelopment authority has secured two grants: One to pursue improvements to the city’s town square and another to determine options for the rehabilitation and future use of three vacant buildings at the corner of the square and Charles Street.

Alex Weld, who chairs the volunteer group, told council it has been awarded a $70,000 grant to hire architects, engineers and financial consultants to determine how buildings at 701 Charles St., 75 Seventh St. and 67 Seventh St. may be renovated and marketed for future use.

The three vacant structures were acquired by the redevelopment authority from the Charles D. Bell estate for $100 for that purpose.

Following the meeting, Weld said the intent is to gather information helpful to private parties that may invest in renovations to the buildings for commercial or residential use.

She said there’s no local match required of the grant, which was awarded through the Opporunity Appalachia program operated by Appalachian Community Capital, a nonprofit community development financial institution.

Weld said the redevelopment authority also has secured a $15,000 grant from the American Association of Retired Persons for improvements to the town square that may include the addition of tables, chairs, umbrellas and trash receptacles, murals in the windows of adjacent windows for aesthetic purposes and leveling of the brick pavers that extend along it between Charles and Main streets.

While there had been talk in years past of lifting and re-setting the bricks, Weld said the group has learned it may be possible to level them without removing them through mechanical means.

First Ward Councilman Jack Kins said the city has buildings in better condition — including a restaurant that was remodeled before it closed — and asked if the redevelopment authority could attract developers to those.

Weld said the group is focusing on properties that were in the redevelopment plan submitted and approved by council.

In related business, she asked if there are plans to reduce the $15,000 currently allocated each year to the group.

City Manager Steve Maguschak said the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle has indicated its yearly membership fee will increase above the current $3,000, and it is paid from the same economic development fund as the redevelopment board.

Mayor Dan Dudley said because that matter wasn’t on the agenda, it will have to be discussed at a future meeting.

Council also heard from Norm Schwertfeger, who was hired to seek grants for the city and announced the Northern Panhandle Resource Conservation and Development Council has awarded $1,000 for landscaping at the E.R. Nichols 1st Ward Park.

Schwertfeger said he’s met with 4th Ward Councilman Charlie Harris to discuss ideas he has for the park there and would like suggestions for other projects from other council members.

Second Ward Councilman Paul Billiard said he’d like to see a handicap-accessible extended walkway build along the Ohio River near the Sixth Street Wharf.

He noted the large turnout for the Duck Derby fundraiser held near the wharf recently by the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club and suggested other events and activities could occur there.

In other business, City Solicitor Ryan Weld told council he’s applied for new funding available through the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for the removal of dilapidated structures.

He said he’s identified 25 properties that may be eligible for the money and welcomed council members to suggest others.

“I think this will be a great thing for this city and give us an opportunity to get rid of some of these properties that have haunted us for a lot of years,” said Weld.

Efforts to improve the city’s appearance were a recurring issue, with 2nd Ward Councilwoman Mary Margaret Rosso saying she’s suggested a Follansbee group involved in cutting grass on overgrown properties in Follansbee do the same in Wellsburg.

Maguschak indicated he plans to employ the group in such efforts, while Weld confirmed the city can seek to recoup the cost by placing a lien on the properties.

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