Long-Standing Eyesore Coming Down This Year

By the end of this year, Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron hopes to see the crumbling, overgrown walls of the former Imperial Pools building disappear from the city’s skyline.

The vacant structure at 1401 McColloch St. that has long been an eyesore for motorists passing East Wheeling on W.Va. 2. will undergo an asbestos inspection and is slated for demolition, Herron told City Council members during their meeting Tuesday night.

That will be accomplished through a $48,000 change order to include the demolition in the city’s $345,650 current contract with Edgco Inc. of Lansing, which is in the latter stages of razing an entire nearby city block to make way for a planned community sports field. Doing so, Herron noted, will be less expensive than tearing down the building in a separate project, which could have cost as much as $67,000.

Herron said the building’s former owner recently turned over the deed to the property to the city after multiple proceedings in municipal court to deal with building code violations.

Herron said the city offering to take ownership of the building seemed to be the best course of action because officials believed the owner likely was planning to walk away from the situation, forcing the city to demolish the building at a higher cost and place a lien on the property, which could have taken several years to collect.

“We are now the owner of the Imperial Pools building. … We’re going to be able to get rid of a very dilapidated building in the city of Wheeling,” Herron said.

Herron said the building’s roof has several holes in it and the floors have collapsed in many places. The fire department wasn’t even willing to use the structure for training exercises, he noted.

Another ongoing demolition project, that of several city-owned buildings in the 1100 block of Main and Market streets, is about “55 percent complete,” Herron told council. Crews with Dore and Associates of Michigan are working inside the old G.C. Murphy building, he said, and plan to tear down the facade of Dr. Manny Velez’s former dental office this weekend.

Main Street will be closed for a portion of Sunday morning as that process is completed, he said.

Even though much is left to be done, Herron said he’s confident work on that block will wrap up by the planned Oct. 2 completion date. He noted two of the buildings already torn down – the former Rite Aid and River City Dance Works buildings – were particularly challenging demolitions, and he expects things to progress more quickly for the remainder of the project.

In other business, City Council unanimously approved a cost of living adjustment payment for retired city employees receiving pensions through the Municipal Employees Pension Fund. Beneficiaries will receive the additional money, which represents a 1.63-percent increase over benefits paid during the 2009-10 fiscal year and a 2.93-percent increase over those paid during 2010-11, through a one-time bonus payment that will cost the city about $48,000.

The increase does not cover beneficiaries of the city’s police and fire pension funds, which are separate.