Planning session draws city residents

PLANNING SESSION — Brandi Rosselli, left, manager of planning services, and Amy Wiles, lead senior planner, of Mackin Engineering listen to residents during a town hall at the Millsop Community Center Wednesday. The public input session was the first of four planned as part of efforts to update Weirton’s Comprehensive Development Plan. -- Craig Howell

PLANNING SESSION — Brandi Rosselli, left, manager of planning services, and Amy Wiles, lead senior planner, of Mackin Engineering listen to residents during a town hall at the Millsop Community Center Wednesday. The public input session was the first of four planned as part of efforts to update Weirton’s Comprehensive Development Plan. -- Craig Howell

WEIRTON — More than 70 area residents gathered in the Weirton Room of the Millsop Community Center Wednesday to learn more about efforts to update Weirton’s Comprehensive Development Plan, and also provide feedback on where they would like to see the city in the future.

Under state law, municipalities are required to update their comprehensive plan every 10 years. Weirton’s was last updated in 2000. The plan serves as a guide for zoning and planning regulations in the city.

Since January, representatives of Mackin Engineering and members of the Weirton Planning Commission have been discussing the update, meeting with residents, business owners and others.

“This is all part of the process,” Planning Commission Chair Chuck Robinson said.

Brandi Rosselli, manager of planning services for Mackin, noted the process is expected to take approximately one year, and it is important to get information from residents to better understand the thoughts of the community as a new plan is designed.

INPUT — More than 70 area residents were in attendance Wednesday as consultants and city officials sought feedback on the hopes for the future of Weirton as part of efforts to update the city’s Comprehensive Development Plan. The town hall was the first of four planned public input sessions. -- Craig Howell

INPUT — More than 70 area residents were in attendance Wednesday as consultants and city officials sought feedback on the hopes for the future of Weirton as part of efforts to update the city’s Comprehensive Development Plan. The town hall was the first of four planned public input sessions. -- Craig Howell

“We’re just getting started,” Rosselli said. “We want to get some feedback from the public. The plan is basically what you want to see for the future of Weirton.”

Residents offered many ideas throughout the night, noting some of the existing attractions in Weirton such as local public swimming pools, the Weirton museum, several local businesses, summer concert series, the Ohio River, and nearby features including Tomlinson Run State Park, Oglebay, Homer Laughlin and the World’s Largest Teapot.

As the comprehensive plan is supposed to be updated every 10 years, it was noted those existing resources will be important as the future is planned.

“We want to make sure we’re laying the groundwork for the next 10 years,” Amy Wiles, lead senior planner for Mackin, said.

Wiles emphasized Mackin wants to make sure the plan reflects the desires of the people of Weirton — residents and business owners — and not just the wishes of city officials. They want a realistic plan, with goals which can be accomplished.

Residents on Wednesday suggested ideas could include increased recreation, including on the river; job development; more youth activities; beautification; housing; an amphitheater facility; a second roadway to access Marland Heights; increased public transit; infrastructure improvements; an overhaul of Main Street; an emphasis on the arts; walking paths; and additional park and ride facilities.

Wiles said it is important to have a focus on both business development and community activities and resources as part of the plan’s development.

“You don’t just want people to work here,” Wiles said. “You want them to live here.”

Robinson agreed, adding for anything to thrive, the community must support it.

Wiles explained Wednesday’s town hall would be the first of four public input sessions, with plans also set to include field visits, stakeholder meetings, focus groups, online surveys and discussions with local youth.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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