The following is an excerpt of my comments to Wheeling City Council, regarding East Wheeling, on Tuesday, June 21. The complete plan, with color photographs of impacted buildings, doomed to demolition if the city is successful in its eminent domain efforts, is at the the public library reference desk and public comments are encouraged. The comments below are the synthesis of the key points of that plan.
City Council public comment:
My name is Jerome Poynton. I live at 136 15th Street.
A Wheeling Intelligencer editorial recently asked City Council to consider new ideas for East Wheeling other than the proposed recreation field.
In 2002 there was a Hopeful Cities proposal, which is a good proposal.
I have a proposal. For the purpose of those who have not seen or will not read my proposal, this evening I would like to summarize the key points - condensing 30 pages to a short statement:
1) Save from destruction from the city the Marion Apartments Building on 16th Street and Bill Lias home on 15th Street. These and other buildings in this plan make up an irreplaceable architectural identity of East Wheeling.
2) Establish a private consortium of investors to invest in these buildings that can be saved, which are numerous and photographed in the 30-page plan. This investment package would prioritize home ownership and community development -not eviction notices.
3) Raze the buildings that have been vacant and in decay for well over 20 years and other buildings where engineer studies deem rehabilitation impossible.
4) Work with community groups already in place - such as West Virginia Northern Community College and Belmont Technical College - to initiate a student or worker trainee program to rehabilitate buildings in an urban laboratory. In other words, train our youth while saving our important historical identity.
5) Expand community gardens as "pocket parks" made available by demolition.
6) Build a Literary Graveyard honoring American writers with Quick Read technology imbedded in reproduction headstones. In other words, educate our children and adults, who can listen to chapters read aloud by either the deceased author or by celebrity readers. (Creating a Hall of Fame for American Writers in Wheeling.)
7) Market the Bill Lias home as a "boutique hotel" or "bed and breakfast." In other words, bring tourism and show off our beautiful city instead of destroying it.
8) Create the Marion Arts Center to educate Wheeling youth on the necessary skill, "digital literacy" for their future in the 21st Century. In other words, create job skills for our youth instead of destroying the city.
This plan for East Wheeling is my plan. This is what I would do. It would restore housing, create skills, create green space in the neighborhood and, properly implemented, create a national focal point for visitors to this City of Wheeling - City of the Skull.
And lastly, and most importantly, this plan saves our beautiful and irreplaceable buildings from destruction. Wheeling has something in these buildings that most cities don't have and the City Council proposal destroys the very thing we have to be proud of.
Thank you and sincerely,