Wellsburg mulls wharf upgrade

WELLSBURG – An architectural firm will draw up plans for improvements to the city’s wharf at Sixth and Main streets as the city prepares to seek a federal land and water conservation grant for the project.

City Council on Tuesday agreed to pay about $3,000 to Hays Landscape Architecture Studio of St. Clairsville to design plans for the wharf. The plans would include a handicap-accessible ramp to the wharf, replacement of docks and efforts to secure the bank there.

Mayor Sue Simonetti said the project also could include beautification efforts.

Simonetti said the cost is not known at this time. She said the plan will include an estimate, and that will determine how much the city seeks and how much its contribution will be.

She said the grant requires a 50 percent match from the city, which could amount to up to $120,000.

Third Ward Councilman Randy Fletcher said the city may refuse the grant if it can’t afford the match.

City Manager Mark Henne noted Hays was hired to develop preliminary plans for improvements to the wharf and city parks but suggested council focus on the wharf first. He noted the architects will have a short time to complete the plan in order for it to be submitted with the grant application, which is due Dec. 31.

Second Ward Councilman Paul T. Billiard, park and recreation committee chair, said improving the wharf will help to bring more people to the city for fishing and boating.

He, Fletcher, 1st Ward Councilman Bruce Hunter, and 4th Ward Council members Della Serevicz and Charlie Harris approved the wharf plan’s development. First Ward Councilman Mike Mitchell didn’t attend the meeting.

Second Ward Councilman Brian Tennant opposed, expressing reservations about proceeding when council didn’t know the cost to the city and whether the architect will be able to complete the plan in time for the application.

Harris stressed he supports improvements to the wharf only if it will not mean a major investment for the city, as he believes funds should be spent to improve the 4th Ward Park.

In other business:

Council appointed Andrea Morris of Wellsburg as city clerk. She was one of two to applicants considered during an executive session for the position, which involves recording minutes for regular and special council meetings, overseeing city elections and handling Freedom of Information requests and other documentation.

Mary Blum resigned from the elected position after holding it for 12 years. Unless changes are made, the position will be on ballots in the city’s 2014 election.

Council last month discussed amending the charter to make the city clerk position an appointed, rather than elected, position. On Tuesday it referred the matter of establishing a charter review committee to its ordinance committee.

City Solicitor Bill Cipriani said changes to the charter must be done through an election or ordinance following a public hearing.

Council authorized Henne to seek bids for repairs Herman Drive, which is off Rabbit Hill Road. He said the steep road needs a firmer base to provide more traction for drivers.

Council agreed to pay $3,300 to Pyrotechnico of New Castle, Pa., for fireworks for the city’s New Year’s Eve celebration. Held on the town square, the event includes the dropping of a lighted ball made by vocational students at Brooke High School, music by a disc jockey and refreshments.

Council approved year-end bonuses, totaling $7,800, for city employees. The bonuses range from $100 for crossing guards and meter readers to $300 for permanent full-time employees.