Funding Secured for Bleachers at J.B. Chambers Memorial Recreation Park in Wheeling

East Wheeling field to get upgrade

Photo by Heather Ziegler Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott, at podium, announces funding for bleachers at the J.B. Chambers Memorial Recreation Park in East Wheeling. Looking on, from left, are donor Gary West, Vice Mayor Chad Thalman and Councilwoman Wendy Scatterday.

WHEELING — No longer will spectators have to sit on the outside looking in at the J.B. Chambers Memorial Recreation Park in East Wheeling, thanks to a donation from philanthropist Gary West and the J.B. Chambers Memorial Foundation.

At the field on McColloch Street on Tuesday, Mayor Glenn Elliott revealed that West has donated $250,000 to the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley toward the purchase and installation of bleachers on the north side of the field. In addition, the J.B. Chambers Memorial Foundation pledged $60,000 toward the project and other amenities.

Elliott said the recreation park was made possible through significant donations and has resulted in a “first-class recreational facility.” He thanked West and Susie Nelson from the Community Foundation for their contributions to further the experience for people using the facility.

City Manager Robert Herron said it has been a goal of the city to install bleachers at the field, but funding was not available. Currently, fans must sit on the sidewalk on the north side of the field and look through the fence during sporting events. Spectators are not permitted on the field during events, which has caused some issues, he said.

With West and the Community Foundation providing the funds to the city, special bleachers are being built that will fit into the hillside and allow spectators to view the field from inside the fence.

They will be similar to bleachers in use at West Liberty University.

“This is a $291,000 project. Fabrication is already underway at a plant in Westerville, Ohio. We expect they will be completed by Dec. 1 and installed by Feb. 1,” Herron said.

The bleachers will accommodate 550 people and are designed for expansion for about 1,000 people.

“Most teams that utilize the field feel that 550 is sufficient for now,” Herron said.

M&G Architects and Engineers are under contract to complete the project. West said former Mayor Andy McKenzie had called him a while back and asked to have lunch.

“I knew when Andy calls, it’s about raising money. We went to lunch and talked it over,” West said. McKenzie was on hand for today’s announcement.

West quipped that he took some extra money out of his wife Flip’s budget for the bleachers. Standing on the field, West said he’s familiar with the area because he worked at the Goodyear store that was once located on 16th Street.

“Wheeling is very blessed to have a council, a mayor and Robert Herron … I’m sure they put in some overtime,” West said.

He said he and his wife look forward to watching a sporting event at the field when the bleachers are in place.

The J.B. Chambers Memorial Recreation Park opened in 2014 and is the only artificial turf field in the area open for use by the general public. At a cost of more than $3 million, the field features restroom facilities, lighted basketball courts and a variety of playground equipment appropriate for children of all ages. Funding sources for the project included $1.25 million in private sector donations; $1.2 million from city taxpayers; and $600,000 in state and federal grants, most of it Community Development Block Grant funding.