Wheeling City Council Approves $2,000,000 for WVU Medicine
Council rejected a motion to reappointment members to the Greater Wheeling Sports and Entertainment Authority in rare public disagreement.
Wheeling’s City Council met to discuss several new ordinances, passing all but one considered.
The Council approved a plan to begin charging water and sewer customers a fee for using credit cards to pay their bills. City Manager Robert Herron said the city had been absorbing some $120,000 in credit card fees for years, describing it as unfair.
Customers can avoid added credit card fees by paying their bills by check or direct deposit.
WVU Medicine will receive $2,000,000 from Wheeling’s Project Fund as redevelopment of the former Ohio Valley Medical Center’s campus inches toward reality.
The hospital closed its doors in late 2019, leaving hundreds of employees without a job and leading to gaps in in-patient mental health services for the region. Shortly after closing the city acquired the property, and in 2022 approved its redevelopment by WVU Medicine.
A regional cancer center will be constructed where the gargantuan property now sits. Mayor Glenn Elliott said this project was a “shot in the arm” for the Center Market community. Speaking about the former OVMC property, Elliott said “we were handed lemons, but what we’ll get is lemonade.”
WVU Medicine’s parent organization, West Virginia University, has been mired in controversy over proposed discontinuation of programs, staff layoffs, and over $45,000,000 in deficits.
A proposed ordinance to reappoint four members of the Greater Wheeling Sports and Entertainment Authority saw Councilors disagree with one another publicly–a fairly rare occurrence in what is typically a consensus driven meeting.
Councilor Palmer, Council’s representative on the GWSEA, had proposed four members be reappointed to their terms on the advisory board. The original terms of these members lapsed in 2018.
Councilor Thalman said he had not been consulted about the appointments, nor did he recall a time when four people were reappointed at once. He encouraged his colleagues to “pump the breaks,” and implored committee members to give adequate time to consider nominations.
Mayor Elliott, who is the chairman of the GWSEA, said he was not informed of the joint reappointments either. He stated that no reappointments should be guaranteed going forward.
Mayor Elliott also called into question the diversity of the GWSEA, saying it is all white, over 50, and has only one female member. Councilor Palmer claimed the candidates should not be punished for a lack of diversity suggesting council increase the size of the GWSEA to accommodate more diverse nominees.
The motion to reappoint the four members ultimately failed on a vote of 3-4, with Councilors Seidler, Sklavounakis, and Palmer voting in the affirmative.
Councilors discussed a plan to renovate city-owned sidewalks before the meeting, with a price tag of $199,000 not including all properties. Vice Mayor Thalman, who has been a vocal supporter of sidewalk repairs, said the city should set an example for its residents.
Currently, property owners are responsible for maintaining, repairing, and replacing sidewalks adjoined to their property. This includes ensuring ADA compliance, level surfaces, and removal of snow, weeds, and trash.
The Council approved several facade grant applications. This program sees property owners apply for funds to help renovate their exteriors.
Not including those approved today, Council has approved $84,000 in funding for facade renovations. The Economic and Community Development Department in the city estimates these projects have seen $707,394 in private investment for approved projects.
Wheeling’s City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of the month.
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