FOLLANSBEE - Follansbee Council on Monday discussed traffic issues involving large trucks, including the closing of a section of state Route 2 at the city's north end; and plans to renovate the Follansbee City Building.
First Ward Councilman Vito "Skip" Cutrone asked the status of a bridge used by trucks traveling to the Koppers plant.
Earlier this year council learned because the private bridge needs repair, the trucks have been traveling through the Mountain State Carbon plant. Route 2 north of the plant's entrance has been reduced to one lane and flaggers have been posted by Koppers to ease trucks' access onto the highway.
The move has spurred complaints from some drivers on Archer Hill Road who have said the move has made it more difficult to turn left from there onto the highway.
James Joseph of Trimodal Terminal, a new business developing a port on the city's west side, said Koppers officials have advised him they hope to replace the bridge later this year.
He said it's a concern to him also because he is working to attract potential businesses to former RG Steel property near the site purchased by him and his partner, Scott Ewusiak.
Following the meeting, Joseph said Trimodal has purchased about 80 acres south of the Mountain State Carbon plant for development as a port with access to the Ohio River and Norfolk-Southern Railroad as well as the highway.
He said the pair also have bought about 300 acres surrounding the plant's parking lot with plans to market it for retail businesses.
During the meeting Joseph said Trimodal plans temporarily to route trucks traveling from Route 2 to its property through State Street. But he agreed that trucks should use Veterans Drive, an industrial access road established for Koppers and other industries on the city's west side, when the bridge is replaced.
Cutrone said large trucks using State Street create a safety hazard. They often have difficulty making the turn from the two-lane section of road and have veered across a street curb near his business, he said.
He added the truck traffic also could endanger children and other pedestrians at nearby Mahan Playground.
In other business, Cutrone suggested instead of renovating the City Building, council should build a new one at another location using money left from the city's sale of former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel property for the Sheetz store and gasoline station.
"It would be cheaper than renovating the (current) building, I believe," he said.
Cutrone said, following the meeting, he was thinking of the former 5 and 10 Store. He said it and three adjacent lots may be for sale and the building could be razed to make room for a new municipal building.
Third Ward Councilwoman Kathy Santoro said she's opposed to moving the City Building because its present location is more accessible to the public and it has historical significance, including a plaque on the wall outside bearing the names of local World War I veterans.
Santoro said she believes constructing a new building would be too costly, while improvements needed at the current building could be done in affordable phases.
"Do the citizens really deserve to be burdened by all of the debt for years to come?" she said.
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Iris Ferrell said she's not opposed to remaining at the same site but also believes it would be less expensive to construct a new building.
Following an architect's review, improvements to the current building were estimated at $680,000 but included the addition of an elevator and reconfiguration of the narrow stairs leading to the second floor.
The elevator was suggested for volunteers with the Follansbee R.E.A.C.H. Program, a food pantry that used the second floor. But it has since moved to the former St. Anthony School.
The city was awarded a $190,000 federal grant for handicap-accessible restrooms and other accommodations.
City Manager John DeStefano reported earlier the building is in great need of electrical wiring, plumbing and ductwork.
But he said Monday council hadn't authorized him to seek estimates for that work, so council advised him to obtain those costs.
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