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Discussion of Weirton public safety building continues

PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING — Weirton Council met with representatives of Horne and King Architects in a work session Wednesday night to continue discussion of a proposed public safety building, which, if built, would serve as the new home of the Weirton Police Department. -- Craig Howell

WEIRTON — Weirton Council continues to narrow down the possibilities for a proposed public safety building, with discussions resuming Wednesday as part of a work session focusing on the project.

Council met with representatives of Horne and King Architects, the firm hired to work on the project, to review some of the more recent developments of the project.

Sharon Jurawitz, of Horne and King, explained city officials, including Councilmembers Flora Perrone and Enzo Fracasso, City Manager Mike Adams and Police Chief Charlie Kush, had visited the police department in Pataskala, Ohio, and, using its design, decisions had been made which would reduce the scope of the project, possibly opening up other options for a site for the project.

“A lot of it is based on that tour in Pataskala,” Jurawitz said, noting Horne and King had designed the building.

Originally proposed as a 37,000-square-feet facility, the newest information provided Wednesday showed the potential of a 17,660-square-feet main building, along with a separate structure to house a practice gun range and a carport for police cruisers.

Much of the changes came from reducing the size of some areas in the proposal, and eliminating areas officials felt were unnecessary.

Current estimates, according to Jurawitz, would require a need for 2.2 acres, with plans for 30 public parking spaces, 22 staff parking spaces and 20 spaces for police cruisers in addition to the proposed structures.

The workshop also included a revised review of some of the targeted properties for the project. Of the 16 sites originally requested for review, the architects still found 12 to be inadequate for the size of the proposed project.

Of the four most likely sites, the Edwin J. Bowman Baseball Field continued to offer possibilities, with its 4.21 acres. The Weirton Board of Parks and Recreation has been fighting against this idea as it has planned improvements set for the field, which currently serves as the home for both Weir High and Madonna High baseball, as well as the site for a variety of activities organized by the Park Board.

Ward 2 Councilman Chris Jonczak asked if it would be possible to use the parking lot north of the field for the site of the public safety facility, and an area behind the Weirton Fire Department for the gun range, instead of building on the baseball field.

“Can we check into that?” he asked.

Another top site was the former Jimmy Carey football field on Virginia Avenue, which is privately owned but features 9.27 acres.

“I’d love to have it up there,” Ward 4 Councilman George Ash said.

Other discussed sites included the property of the Weirton Event Center, which is owned by the city, and a set of properties in the city’s north end which include the old city building and a former post office. Both sites could provide obstacles with spacing, according to the architects.

The architects also reviewed the idea of expanding the existing Weirton Municipal Building, but found that suggestions unpalatable, citing a loss of parking, security issues and a need for the police department to operate elsewhere during the construction and renovations.

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

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