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Weirton officials continue review for building site

IN DISCUSSION — Weirton Council continued discussion on possible sites for a proposed public safety building Monday. Pictured, from left, are Ward 4 Councilman George Ash, Ward 7 Councilman Terry Weigel and City Attorney Vince Gurrera. -- Craig Howell

WEIRTON — Although much of the discussion concerning a possible new headquarters for the Weirton Police Department has focused on the use of the Edwin J. Bowman Baseball Field as a site, city officials emphasize they have been looking at numerous options as part of the decision process.

Through the course of three public work sessions with representatives of Horne and King Architects, as well as various site visits, council has reviewed the potential use of more than 16 properties in the city.

“It took quite a bit of due diligence to get to where we are,” Ward 5 Councilwoman Flora Perrone said.

Current proposals for the public safety facility would be a 17,660-square-foot main building, with a base construction cost estimated at $7,061,470. A 6,265-square-foot carport would cost $1,380,655 and a 4,990-square-foot firearms range is estimated at $1,790,680.

Additional costs could be incurred if there is a need for a multi-story building and elevators, as well as depending on property acquisition needs.

Council representatives, during a public work session and a town hall held at the Weirton Municipal Building Monday, reiterated, they continue to weigh the pros and cons of each site, with a focus currently on various options for five properties.

“There have been talks about other places the entire time,” Ward 2 Councilman Chris Jonczak said.

Among the properties discussed Monday are:

≤ The former Jimmy Carey stadium site off of Virginia Avenue, with three configuration options. The first option, A1, would include approximately 5.25 acres where the football stadium had been. Officials note there would be purchase and demolition costs and limited access with only one road. Option A2 would be the center portion of the property with 2 acres and an existing building. The area is 160 feet wide, has limited access, as well as the need to purchase the property and demolish the building. Option A3 is the area closest to Virginia Avenue, with 2.66 acres. It would be 144 feet wide, or 260 feet if combined with property already owned by the city, with significant grade changes and limited access in addition to the property purchase.

— The area around the Weirton Event Center, with four options proposed. Option B1 would feature only the Event Center site, which is 1.4 acres and considered too small unless a multi-story building would be constructed. Parking would be limited and the Event Center would need relocated. Option B2 would include the Event Center and an adjoining property along Cove Road, wrapping around Cove Commons and going north along Main Street. It would encompass 2.5 acres, but features a dramatic grade change, according to officials, unusual shape and difficult access. Option B3 would be on a 0.5 acre site north of the Event Center on Lee Avenue. Architects noted the size would be too small for the project and there would be a need to vacate the alley. Option B4 would use 1.25 acres north of the Event Center, all of which currently is private property. It would need a multi-story facility with limited parking and vacating of the alley.

— Property at the intersection of Cove Road, Weir Avenue and Lee Avenue would feature approximately 2.8 acres of land.

— A site at the intersection of County Road, Pennsylvania Avenue and Crawford Avenue, where the former city building and an old post office are located, has been presented with three configurations. Option D1 would have approximately 2 acres, but would require the vacating of Avenue J and Crawford Avenue, is 82 feet wide and would have what architects called an “unusual shape” wrapping around nearby houses. Option D2 would use a group of currently vacant lots at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Crawford Avenue which would total 1.3 acres and need the vacating of City Street. Option D3 would be about 2.1 acres, using the old post office and the three previous empty lots and the vacating of City Street.

— The area around Edwin J. Bowman Field has three options. Option E1 would utilize the entirety of Bowman Field, at 2.9 acres, would require the relocation of utility lines and gain 59 parking spots for Municipal Plaza. E2 would be 2.6 acres featuring the parking area north of the baseball field, but would result in the loss of 157 parking spaces. Option E3 would build partially on the baseball field and parking on the parking lot, on 2.9 acres, with a potential gain of 25 parking spaces.

Some members of council explained while they, individually, had hoped to use the ball field, they now see other properties as having more potential.

“I was hellbent on putting it on the field,” Ward 6 Councilman Enzo Fracasso admitted, adding he feels it might not be the best option now.

“A lot of us have moved past the field,” Ward 1 Councilman Tim Connell said.

Mayor Harold Miller also spoke against the use of the field for the project.

“I will not stand for the elimination of Bowman Field,” he said, counting it among the city’s recreational amenities which he said helps to attract residents and visitors to Weirton.

Council noted no timeline has been established for making a decision on the location for the public safety facility, although City Manager Mike Adams said it is not something officials want to keep open-ended.

Whatever decision is made, Ward 7 Councilman Terry Weigel noted, Bowman Field would be available for at least the 2022 high school baseball season.

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