Wellsburg projects moving forward

WELLSBURG – City Council on Tuesday moved forward with plans to renovate City Hall, the town square around it and the brick sidewalks along Charles Street.

Council agreed to seek bids for a proposed first phase of the City Hall renovations. Pending available funding, the phase is expected to include removal of the clock tower, which is deteriorating and allowing rain to enter the building, and repairs and upgrades to its electrical and plumbing systems.

Ron Michaux, finance committee chairman, noted plans call for a facade to be applied to the area around the tower until it can be replaced in a later phase.

Representatives of McKinley and Associates of Wheeling met with the committee on March 5 to discuss proposed improvements to the building, including a handicap-accessible ramp.

Michaux said the architects presented proposals for ramps leading to the front and rear entrances. He said the committee overall preferred a ramp at the rear that would be accessed from the Charles Street sidewalk.

Because of the ramp’s expected cost, plans call for it to be included in proposed second or third phases, when city officials hope to have secured additional funds for the project.

In related business, council authorized City Manager Mark Henne, City Solicitor Bill Cipriani and Mayor Sue Simonetti to proceed with negotiations with Hays Landscape Architecture Studio of St. Clairsville for renovations to the town square.

The architectural firm has proposed up to $51,000 for basic services, with additional fees for other services as needed and with the city’s prior approval.

Council had planned to employ Land Planning & Design Associates of Sterling, Va., the firm that had designed the town square more than 30 years ago, but the firm’s higher asking price led city officials to reconsider.

Simonetti said concrete areas of the square are deteriorating with age and some brick areas are now uneven.

The city received a $164,000 grant from the West Virginia Department of Transportation to restore the square and a section of the brick sidewalks on both sides of Charles Street from Sixth to Seventh streets.

The grant requires a $41,000 local match, $25,000 of which has been secured through a donation from Chesapeake Energy and other city funds, Simonetti said.

Council also agreed to apply for a $211,219 grant from the state Department of Transportation to restore brick sidewalks along Charles between Eighth and Ninth streets. Simonetti said she and others are exploring sources for the $42,244 local match.

In other business:

Henne said construction has begun at the former Banner Fiberboard property. The 4-acre site was purchased for $1.2 million by Eagle Manufacturing with the intention of expanding its Wellsburg operations. He said officials with the state Division of Highways are expected to visit in April to further plans to install a turn signal to accommodate trucks entering the site and alter timing for two traffic signals north and south to correspond with the new light.

Council heard from two residents of Pleasant Avenue, Vaughn Hone and Bob Sult. Hone complained of speeding on the street and nearby Windsor and Caldwell avenues, where he said many children and senior citizens live. He suggested City Police conduct radar patrols in the area at times.

Sult complained of a neighbor’s dogs barking and was advised a city ordinance addresses that and it can be reported to the police.

Adopted a resolution declaring May 1 through June 1 Paint the Town Purple Days at the request of Paul Hornick, co-chairman for the Brooke-Hancock American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

Organizers of the Relay for Life will decorate Wellsburg Town Square in purple and white, the event’s official colors, and encourage local businesses and residents to do the same to promote the fundraiser and awareness of cancer.

Hornick said the Brooke-Hancock Relay for Life will be held June 1-2 at the Follansbee Middle School football field.

For information about getting involved, call (304) 737-3748, (304) 919-3960 or (304) 296-8155.