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Possible location for new safety building under scrutiny

Weirton Board of Parks and Recreation, residents oppose use of field for safety building

WEIRTON — A group of residents attended Thursday’s meeting of the Weirton Board of Parks and Recreation, expressing concern over the future of the Edwin J. Bowman Field.

According to Parks Director Coty Shingle, approximately 15 residents were at Thursday’s meeting to discuss the field. This follows a recent work session by Weirton Council, in which Bowman Field was listed as among possible sites for a future public safety building, and a directive during last week’s Weirton Council meeting that planned improvements to the field be halted until a decision on the proposed facility can be made.

Shingle explained the Park Board had received a letter from Acting City Manager DeeAnn Pulliam, written at the request of Ward 5 Councilwoman Flora Perrone, requested work on the site be stopped.

The Park Board had received a grant, finalized in 2020, through the federal Land Water Conservation Fund, with several physical improvements planned for the field. Much of the work has been delayed because of ongoing use of the field, Shingle said.

“This isn’t something you can do while teams are playing on the field, and we’ve had a high level of activity on the field since late February,” Shingle said. “Now is the time to have the work done. It’s work we would’ve done even if there wasn’t a grant because it’s in our field maintenance plan.”

Chief among the improvements is the replacement of the infield area, which Shingle noted has a small window of opportunity. The grant funds must be expended by 2023, Shingle explained.

Among those speaking Thursday was Luke Myers, an officer of Starvaggi Industries and an assistant baseball coach at Weirton Madonna High School. In comments provided by Myers to The Weirton Daily Times, he said he stands in opposition of council’s potential use of the field for a public safety building, saying delaying the planned field improvements cannot be an option.

“The improvements to the field are necessary for our upcoming spring season and the time to do the work is shrinking as the construction season will soon be ending,” Myers said. “In addition, we are strongly opposed to any plan that eliminates the community ballfield so that a new police station can be built in its place. While we fully support either renovating the existing building or building a new one to better meet the needs of our police officers, we do not believe it should be at the expense of such an asset to this community, the Edwin J. Bowman Field. There are better options, and these options should accomplish the goal of tearing down blight, not ballfields.”

Shingle explained others in attendance noted the field’s use as a landing zone for medical helicopters, primarily for incidents in the city’s downtown areas and Marland Heights.

For its part, the Park Board approved a resolution to draft a letter reporting it plans not to comply with council’s request.

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