Council Gives Nod To Removal

WHEELING – City Council on Tuesday approved demolition of a number of buildings to clear the way for a planned sports field in East Wheeling, and the vote elicited firm words from one resident.

Jerome Poynton, who still resides at 136 15th St., approached council with a written speech regarding the field’s feasibility and said the legal battle over the use of eminent domain is not over yet.

After the meeting, Mayor Andy McKenzie termed Poynton’s remarks “idiocy,” but he refused to go on the record with a response.

Council approved spending $345,650 with Egdco Inc. of Lansing to demolish all structures in the southeast block of 15th and Wood streets, aside from the American Electric Power substation and Elks Playground.

“There has been no study or support for the need or feasibility of the park at this location,” Poynton said.

He claimed the proposed area will not suitably fit all the proposed components, and he said there is “a considerable elevation drop” that will “require extensive earthwork.” He said the field is set for an east-west alignment, meaning one team would always be facing into the sun.

He further pointed out that Americo Inc., a company owned by Wheeling resident Frank Calabrese, owns a 3-acre plot at 58 19th St., about four blocks away, that is available. Poynton said the area has bicycle and car access with “plenty of parking under the expressway overpass.” Calabrese confirmed his company owns the plot that is for sale and that a large structure there is “available to anyone.”

Poynton said he and neighboring resident Helen Adelson, who also is being forced from her home, have the resources to invest in the block and that there is no “substantial return on investment for the site” as a sports field.

Poynton said he and Charleston lawyer Steve Wylie filed a motion to stay council’s action with Ohio County Circuit Court and an appeal with the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

“You should all be ashamed of yourselves,” Poynton said in his final remark to council.

He is a candidate running for mayor against the incumbent McKenzie, but Poynton said his remarks Tuesday were not intended to support his campaign.

In other business, council approved a resolution to adopt the fiscal 2012-13 General Fund Budget of $29.89 million. This entails about $400,000 less in spending than the current fiscal year. The new budget will go into effect July 1.