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Deed Issue Shuts Door On Riverfront Development

By Staff | Feb 3, 2010

This is a drawing of the original 2005 plans for the Riverfront Development project in New Martinsville.

The Riverfront Development Committee in New Martinsville announced at Monday’s city council meeting that at the current time they can no longer pursue the building of a riverfront amphitheater at Washington Street.

“Right now the door has been closed on this project for an indefinite amount of time,” stated Councilman and RDC Member Steve Pallisco. Specifically that door is obtaining a deed to the vacant property owned by WesBanco, located directly behind their downtown New Martinsville branch.

The committee cannot write grants for the project unless they have deeds to the two properties involved-the riverfront properties on each side of Washington Street. The county has already deeded the lot behind the courthouse, with a provision that if it is not developed, then ownership reverts back to the county. Pallisco said a similar agreement could be drawn up with WesBanco, but there are constant roadblocks to that happening.

Pallisco was quick to point out that it is not the local branch that is the stumbling block.

“Understand that the committee is not dissolving. We have other doors we’re going to walk through,” said Pallisco. He said Riverfront Development will remain a committee and work on other projects for the waterfront, but at this time the amphitheater project is not viable.

“I believe very strongly in it and I think it is a very sad day to say at this time we cannot move ahead,” said Mayor Lucille Blum.

“We still need this project. We still need riverfront development because we still have almost 13 percent unemployment and we need to do something,” underlined Pallisco.

Work will continue on the feasibility study as it will be needed no matter what kind of riverfront development goes forward.

In a related matter, Pallisco said the Riverfront Development Committee is still working on this year’s Festival of Memories. They are trying to come up with different things for the event while keeping the things that work for both kids and adults. The quilt and car shows are still scheduled and they are hoping for someone to sponsor a fireworks display.

After Monday’s meeting Mayor Blum met with members of committees three (streets) and five (buildings), as well as Street Commissioner Gary Willey and Building Inspector Joe Hanna, to schedule a meeting to address property upkeep in the Brooklyn section of New Martinsville.

She said someone anonymously left a pack of information at her home that day asking her to look at a message board on the Wetzel Chronicle’s Web site, www.wetzelchronicle.com, concerning Brooklyn.

The original post that has spurred some online conversation is titled “Brooklyn Section” and says, “There must be something done to clean up the Brooklyn section of town. The town or the county must step in. Apparently the people are unable or unwilling to keep up the neighborhood. There is no shame in being on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum. The shame is ‘your place looks like a dump’. It wasn’t always in the poor state of repair that it’s in now. How would we like “that area” as a postcard for town? It has to stop. Is there anything that can be done?”

“Obviously the residents of that area of town have had it,” said Blum.

Relatedly, Councilwoman Holly Grandstaff, who represents that area, said she had spoken with Don Riggenbach, president of the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce, about the possibility of the industrial park’s road going on around to Kappel Street and opening up access there. “Hopefully that can help alleviate the Anderson Lane problem,” said Grandstaff. For months residents of Anderson Lane have been complaining about fast, destructive traffic on their gravel road, calling it a drug thoroughfare.

Grandstaff said they are waiting on a survey to be completed, perhaps by the end of February.