Finding the right focus for the future

Efforts to update Weirton’s Comprehensive Development Plan are continuing, working toward mapping out ideas for the future of the community.

During a gathering of the city’s Planning Commission last week, officials, a couple of residents and the consultant on the project sat down to discuss a recent survey of residents geared toward gathering an idea of what people think is important for Weirton, and where they feel the community should be heading.

More than 600 people took part in the survey, providing answers either online or while at the city’s Independence Day celebration on July 1.

This continues a high level of participation following a town hall held earlier this year, where around 90 residents attended and provided some insight.

To me, it is encouraging to see so many people offering their thoughts through this process.

Weirton has been through a lot over the last 20 years, and while there have been several pieces of good news in recent months, we have a more recent history with negative events.

Weirton spent much of its history with a large manufacturing firm at the focus of the town, and taking care of much of its citizens’ needs.

Those days are over, and we need to find a focus for our future.

According to the survey, many felt there needs to be a focus on Weirton’s downtown area as the city continues to rebuild.

Downtown Weirton is the first area of the city most visitors see, and it definitely has seen its better days.

There are several businesses which have been there for years, and a few newer ones which have been able to thrive, but there also are several vacant buildings.

A little bit of upkeep needs to be done, combined with some community attractions to draw residents to the area.

The Weirton Event Center has Friday concerts in the summer, the Weirton Museum and the Summit Art Gallery are major assets, and a theater group has established its roots downtown in recent years.

But what else can be included? What activities could be held downtown, and where?

What can be done to attract and retain new businesses, and what type of businesses?

These are all things to consider, and those involved in these efforts are going to want to continue hearing from residents.

The Planning Commission meets once every month, and there certainly will be other public input opportunities during this process.

Get involved, let your thoughts be known and help to find the focus for Weirton’s future.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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