Follansbee asked about city property

FOLLANSBEE – Follansbee Council has been approached by two entities interested in purchasing property owned by the city.

Council heard from Robert Stewart, vice president of the Toronto 4th of July Committee, who asked about buying the site of the former Brooke County Animal Shelter near Allegheny Street to store fireworks used for the city’s annual display and other events.

Ownership of the site was returned to the city after the new Brooke County Animal Shelter was established in Beech Bottom. It is a little more than 1.5 acres.

Stewart said new regulations hinder the group from storing the fireworks in Ohio, but storage at the former animal shelter would have to be approved by West Virginia officials. He said the site would be used primarily for fireworks used in Toronto around Independence Day but also could be used to store fireworks used in other events elsewhere.

Stewart said lighting and security cameras would be installed at the site.

Third Ward Councilwoman Kathy Santoro asked if Stewart would be interested in leasing the site, saying a temporary arrangement would allow both parties to determine if they are comfortable with the situation.

City Attorney Michael Gaudio said if the city is to sell the site, it must advertise and hold an auction in which others may bid for it. He said leasing wouldn’t require an auction and council may consider the request further.

In related business, council met in executive session to discuss proposed negotiations for other property owned by the city.

City Manager John DeStefano told council someone recently expressed interest in city property but said he couldn’t publicly comment on the matter at this time.

In recent years the city has sold, through public auctions, two sections of land along state Route 2- one for $600,000 for the development of the Scheetz store and gasoline station and the other for $720,000 for the Rite Aid store.

The two locations were among 12 acres purchased from Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. in 2001 for $1.3 million for the purpose of marketing it for economic development.

In other business:

DeStefano said he will be meeting this week with a company interested in selling playground equipment for city parks. He said the company may help the city to secure a grant for it.

Several council members said Mahan Playground is in particular need of new equipment. DeStefano said the present equipment was installed in the late 1980s and some has been removed by city crews because of its condition.

Council was asked to consider an agreement with the Brooke-Hancock American Cancer Society Relay for Life Committee allowing the group to hold a parade on Main Street to promote the annual fundraiser.

If approved, the agreement would call for City Police to provide traffic control while that section of state Route 2 is closed for the parade as it does during the Follansbee Community Days Parade, when the street is closed for about 90 minutes.

City Police Chief John Schwertfeger said the city employs a private security company and firefighters for traffic control along the detour.

DeStefano said another issue that must be addressed is the large number of water trucks using Route 2 to travel to and from gas drilling sites.