Alley Sections to Close for Sports Field

WHEELING – Wheeling City Council took care of a minor procedural hurdle to construction of the future J.B. Chambers Recreational Park in East Wheeling on Tuesday by closing portions of two alleys that cross the project site.

Council unanimously passed an ordinance declaring Lane G between 15th and 16th streets and Lane 13 between Wood and McColloch streets closed to traffic as the city prepares to turn a dirt-filled wasteland into what officials hope will become the centerpiece of the neighborhood.

City Manager Robert Herron said he is not yet sure when the city will begin seeking bids for construction of the field itself, which will be composed of artificial turf and suitable for football, soccer, lacrosse and softball. The estimated $3 million project includes plans for two basketball courts and a new playground.

Herron said the demolition contractor, Edgco Inc. of Lansing, has basically finished its work removing buildings from the area, and the next step is relocation of utility lines within the project site. American Electric Power, which operates a substation adjacent to the planned field, has a plan in place, and Herron said he expects that work to begin soon.

The ordinance to close the alleys noted that a route providing vehicular access to the substation will be permitted, but only with the city’s prior approval.

He also said the remodeling of the new council chambers on the ground floor of the City-County Building is under way. The approximately $94,000 project, awarded to John Russell Construction of Steubenville, should be complete in January and Herron hopes the scheduled Jan. 15 meeting will be council’s first in the new location.

In another unanimous vote, council approved spending $26,112 with Erb Electric for booster pump equipment at the water treatment plant. The Bridgeport firm was the only company to submit a bid, according to the ordinance.

Mayor Andy McKenzie also nominated Rabbi Beth Jacowitz Chottiner, George Blum and Shawn Fluharty for reappointment to the city Human Rights Commission. Council approved all three appointments unanimously.

Blum has served on the commission for 28 years, while Chottiner and Fluharty, who both were appointed in February 2011, are among its newest members. Each of their terms expired on June 30, but city code allowed them to continue serving because no replacements had been named.

Council also unanimously confirmed McKenzie’s reappointment of the Rev. Willie Nevels to the Wheeling Housing Authority.

Prior to the full council meeting, the Finance Committee met to discuss Wheeling’s monthly fiscal report. Herron said revenue is on track compared to the 2011-12 fiscal year, which he noted was a “record year.” Expenses for the year to date, he said, stand at 33 percent of budget compared to 36 percent at this time last year.

According to Herron, this is partly attributable to an extra 27th pay period last year, which caused budgeted expenses to be slightly higher than normal.

The committee also went behind closed doors to discuss property acquisition. Members took no action following the executive session, which lasted less than 10 minutes.