Continue dialogue with safety facility

By now, you’ve hopefully read our article from the Friday edition about the next meetings concerning Weirton’s proposed public safety facility.

Discussions for the project have been taking place for months now, with a variety of ideas thrown around.

Weirton Council will have another work session to discuss the facility Monday night, beginning at 6 p.m. This will be the third such workshop in as many months, with council receiving updates from the architectural firm the city hired to review the feasibility of the project.

We’ve reported on those previous workshops, where the scale of the project has been greatly reduced, opening up a few more potential locations, although there still appears to be a focus on only a couple.

The workshop will be followed by a town hall at 7 p.m. Both meetings are set to be held in the council chambers, although, if I were council, I might consider holding the town hall at a larger venue.

There are those in the community who are against one of the proposed locations for the public safety facility, and I would imagine they plan to rally, once again, Monday night.

Another town hall, this one organized by the Weirton Park Board, saw several dozen residents attend in the Weirton Room of the Millsop Community Center. If a similar turnout happens Monday, I can guarantee they won’t be able to fit everyone in the council chambers, so the alternatives are to have a crowd gathering in the hallway, move some to another part of the building where they can watch a live feed (but not necessarily take part) or move it to another location completely.

I’ve mentioned the town hall held by the Park Board. That event focused primarily on the potential use of the Edwin J. Bowman Baseball Field for the proposed public safety facility. It is one of the two largest sites being reviewed for the project, and would be both located downtown and within close proximity of other municipal facilities.

The field currently is the home field for Weir High and Madonna High’s baseball teams, although the Hancock County Board of Education is moving forward with its plans to build new on-campus facilities for Weir High. Current schedules have that field, as well as one for the softball team, beginning construction sometime next year.

Bowman Field, though, has had other uses, including for a Legion team, a site for the Beast of the East tournament, the city’s Easter egg hunt, and, in recent weeks, a youth flag football program.

One of the factors which has yet to be raised publicly is the potential cost for this project, as well as how the city will pay for it. Perhaps we’ll find out some of those details Monday.

Any new construction is going to have a price, especially these days when the value of materials and labor are increasing. Does the city have the funding currently to cover that price? If so, what is the source? If not, where will the funding be derived?

I’m not trying to bash this project. I’ve walked some of the halls of the current police station. I was taken into the locker room area several years ago, and I can tell you it wasn’t anything to write home about back then.

As I’ve said in the past, the communication for this project needs to be open and honest. I’m glad to see council hosting its own town hall. Let’s make sure the dialogue between all parties continues.

(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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