Wheeling's City Council Holds June 21 Meeting
A lengthy presentation occurred discussing ways for the city to encourage remote workers to move to the city.
The Wheeling City Council saw every member in attendance for their June 21 meeting. Beforehand, the Council’s Finance Committee met to discuss several projects funded through ARPA–including splash pads, a playground at Market Plaza, the Victorian Homes program, among others. Click here for a full report on that meeting.
Mayor Glenn Elliott began his Mayor’s Report by reminding citizens of his State of the City address, scheduled for noon on Tuesday, July 25, at the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack. Admission is free, but lunch can be reserved through City Clerk Jessica Zalenski for $15. This will be the last address offered by outgoing Mayor Elliott.
The mayor recognized TBT, or The Basketball Tournament, who will be hosting their regional tournament in Wheeling from July 25-30 at WesBanco Arena. West Virginia’s team, ‘Best Virginia,’ will face off against ‘DuBois Dream’ of Western PA on opening night.
Mayor Elliott announced five re-appointments to the Hall of Fame Board, as well as one new appointment, each serving a six year term. Two members of the Human Rights Commission were re-appointed as well.
After several technology issues were taken care of, the bulk of the Mayor’s Report saw Mr Aaron Finley virtually deliver a report conducted by Thomas P Miller and Associates, with cooperation from the Bel-O-Mar Regional Council and Wheeling Heritage, looking at Wheeling’s potential to attract remote workers to the city.
Finley pointed to several relocation programs across the country–some offering incentives for remote workers, and others who relied on marketing alone. The report claims that an increase in local wages and home ownership rates are seen in areas where remote workers move.
Thomas P Miller and Associates conducted a national survey of remote workers from 22 states and the DIstrict of Columbia, asking them how topics such as infrastructure, quality of life, and economy, affected a person's decision to move to a community.
In infrastructure, the study found that 97% of respondents valued high speed internet, 72% looked for regional and local transportation options.
For quality of life, 85% of respondents said a good climate was important to them, with 70% saying restaurants, bars, and outdoor recreation were important.
Regarding the economy, 87% of respondents said they considered areas that have affordable houses for purchase, 65% said affordable rent was important, and only 54% said cash incentives encouraged them to move.
Connecting the survey to the reality in the City of Wheeling, Finley said there were strengths associated with the city’s history, heritage, retail landscape, affordability, access to quality health care, and low crime rates.
Speaking of weaknesses, though, Finley said a national perception about West Virginia was top of mind for potential remote workers moving to the city. Respondents cited a lack of housing that is newly constructed, in walkable, central locations, and that are move-in ready.
The study recommends Wheeling create an incentive program to encourage remote workers to move to the city. Finley says developing a “Make Your Mark,” campaign, highlighting local success stories, can encourage folks who want to move to a place and feel a sense of connection.
Mayor Elliott, speaking about the survey, said the recommendations made would make Wheeling a better place for current residents–not just potential remote workers.
Regular business continued at the conclusion of the presentation.
The City Council approved an ordinance to change the zoning of 108 South Huron St from residential to commercial. The lot is currently vacant and will become a parking lot for Smoker Friendly.
A lien of $13,000 on the property owner of 2419 Jacob St was approved for the razing of a dilapidated structure.
A $4.1 million dollar contract with Vicro Contracting, Inc, of Charleston, was approved for the replacement of GC&P Road’s sewer system. Other bids ranged from $4.9 million to $5.4 million.
Council approved $50,000 in funding for the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Celebrate America!’ concert and fireworks show starting at 7:30 on Tuesday, July 4, at Heritage Port.
A $441,500 contract with Saffo Contractors of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, was approved for the Tunnel Green painting. Mayor Elliott said the project was great, and will make the “eye sore” good again. The Arts and Cultural Commission will play an unspecified role in the project.
Three ordinances related to the WesBanco and Warwood splash pads were heard for a first reading, and will be voted on at the July 5 meeting. The projects must be approved by July 5 or risk losing their contract, which expires the week of July 10.
14 ordinances were approved related to routine purchase of chemicals for the sewage treatment plant and water treatment plants, respectively.
Remarks from Council were offered:
Councilor Dave Palmer, Ward 6, reminded citizens that fireworks are illegal in the City of Wheeling. He encouraged folks to attend scheduled firework shows, with the first in the city being held at dusk on June 30 at Patterson ball field in Elm Grove, sponsored by American Legion Post 1.
Vice Mayor Chad Thalman, Ward 1, congratulated the 11 people inducted to the Wheeling Hall of Fame on June 10. The Vice Mayor gave remarks at the event on Mayor Elliott’s behalf.
Councilor Ben Seidler, Ward 2, encouraged residents of North Wheeling to take part in a community cleanup event on June 24.
Councilor Rosemary Ketchum, Ward 3, encouraged citizens to come to Centre Market on Sunday, June 25, as the Arts and Cultural Commission will paint two crosswalks on the west side of Market St. The street will remain closed the following Monday and Tuesday.
Councilor Ketchum invited South Wheeling residents to their Crime Watch meeting at the Trinity Lutheran Church at 6:30 on Tuesday, June 27.
Councilor Ketchum announced her next office hours at Centre Market on July 11, from 11 to 1. Residents are encouraged to attend and ask questions about the city.
Councilor Jerry Sklavounakis, Ward 4, speaking of the Victorian Homes grant program, said there were “very good projects” being reviewed. He said many projects were for windows and roofs, and that he wished more were for facades.
Councilor Sklavounakis, who sits on the Hall of Fame Board, congratulated the new appointees announced tonight.
During the City Manager’s Report, City Manager Robert Herron announced the completion of the 2022-23 paving project, which saw alley’s throughout the city repaved.
Herron announced the opening of the Edgington Lane playground for Friday, June 23.
Bus stops will be temporarily moved from Market St to accommodate the Streetscape project.
The intersection of 16th St and Market St will remain closed for July 4, and Wheeling Police Department are preparing to help direct traffic to accommodate the closure.
Vice Mayor Thalman, Ward 1, asked whether anything was being done about the smell emanating from the sewage treatment plant, to which Herron said a regular schedule of injecting chemicals to the digester would begin.
Councilor Ketchum, Ward 3, asked for an update on the Market St bridge, to which Herron responded the plan was to replace the deck by the Main St Christmas Parade in November. Ketchum asked Herron to communicate with WVNCC about parking. The college’s current lots have been affected by the Streetscape’s road closures.
Councilor Palmer, Ward 6, asked about the logistics of relocating the August City Council Meeting to Oglebay Park, to which Herron said a resolution to do so would need to be approved. Herron noted the Council has held its meeting outside of the chambers before.
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 5.
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