City to Seal Fate of Long Center

Months after the city declared its intent to tear down the 145-year-old former Gene Long Community Center on Wheeling Island, City Council is expected make it official this month.

A proposal to spend almost $27,000 to hire Edgco Inc. of Lansing to conduct asbestos abatement and raze the building is up for first reading during council’s meeting at noon today on the first floor of the City-County Building. A vote to approve the contract likely would take place Dec. 17.

Situated at the corner of Virginia and South Penn streets, the building – “Wheeling Island’s Own Town Hall,” according to a sign in the window – dates back to 1868.

It once served as a restaurant and dance hall, but it’s most noted today for the record of high water marks from various floods throughout Wheeling’s history painted on its northwest corner.

The Long family gifted the building to the city several years ago, but it sat vacant as officials never found a use for it.

It was among a group of several properties City Council put up for sale earlier this year in hopes of returning them to the tax rolls.

The building was in such poor condition, however, that officials declined to allow prospective buyers to tour it, and ultimately no one submitted a proposal to salvage it.

In February, bricks began falling from the structure, prompting the city to barricade the surrounding sidewalk.

After the failed attempt to sell the building, City Manager Robert Herron signaled its likely fate by authorizing an asbestos inspection for the structure.

Wheeling will use general fund money to raze the building, allowing them to expedite the process.

The city typically uses Community Development Block Grant money to demolish dilapidated buildings, but must go through extensive consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office in order to use federal funds to tear down any structure on Wheeling Island, which is a historic district.