Island Man Wants Long Center Gone

Every day when Wheeling Island resident William Seabright walks out his front door, he’s faced with what he terms a giant, pink eyesore – the Gene Long building.

Bricks have been falling off the former community center, now owned by the city of Wheeling, for years – so many lately that city workers blocked off the sidewalk to keep passersby safe.

City officials recently sought proposals for ideas to reuse the Virginia Street building, but there were no takers. To Seabright this means one thing: it’s time to demolish the dilapidated structure.

”I’m fed up with it. It’s a total disgrace,” said Seabright, who has lived on the Island for 72 years.

Seabright said he is happy that other neighborhoods, such as East Wheeling, are getting some attention with planned recreation projects such as a community field and playground.

But East Wheeling isn’t the only section of the city where slum and blight are problems, he said.

”That’s all they care about is East Wheeling,” Seabright said of city officials. ”This should be torn down immediately. The people are disgusted.”

Last month, Wheeling Historic Landmarks Commission members said they received no proposals for reuse of the building, which is located about a block from the historic Suspension Bridge. Wheeling Assistant Director of Economic and Community Development Tom Connelly said previously the city has no plans for the building and that no decision had been made about whether to raze it.

Councilman Ken Imer, an Island resident, could not be reached Friday for comment.

”If it’s safe, why don’t they get rid of these barricades?” Seabright said.