Wheeling City Council OKs Another Downtown Facade Grant

WHEELING — City council approved grant funding for improvements to another downtown commercial building at its first meeting of the year Wednesday.

Council, which met Wednesday due to the New Year’s Day holiday, awarded its ninth Facade Improvement Program grant to the Maxwell Center, 32 20th Street. The program provides up to $15,000 per building to improve the exteriors of downtown structures.

“We’re excited to see downtown business owners take advantage of this program,” Mayor Glenn Elliott said. “We see these as a great way to use a little bit of public money to stimulate private investment in downtown.”

The 20th Street building is home to businesses on its first three floors, and its fourth and fifth floors are available to lease. Part of the planned improvements to the building, which will cost $106,000, will include window replacements, according to information from the city.

“I think that just illustrates the variety of items that can be addressed. It doesn’t have to be just a facade issue,” Councilwoman Wendy Scatterday said of the program.

Eligible improvements through the program, which started in April 2017, include exterior painting or surface treatment, decorative awnings, window and door modifications, outdoor patios and decks, storefront enhancements and architectural features.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, City Manager Robert Herron provided an update on the new footbridge near Wheeling Jesuit University. The city’s construction crews need to assemble a new pier to support the bridge and design work needs to be done to make the bridge compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, he said.

“It is moving forward. There has been work done,” Herron said. “The next step is to construct the pier.”

The bridge project, which will cost about $183,000, is the result of a $170,000 anonymous donation the city received in November.

Council also is moving forward with appointing a replacement for former 3rd Ward Councilman Brian Wilson, who resigned at the end of December after accepting a new job in Louisiana. Mayor Glenn Elliott said the city has received eight applications for the position.

Elliott said council will begin interviewing candidates over the next few weeks and hopes to have a decision by the end of the month. Wilson was elected in 2016 and his term ends in 2020.

In another update, Elliott said the city resolved 44 traffic citations through its “Food for Fines” program as of Dec. 28. Through the program, which lets people donate canned goods to pay for parking tickets during December, the city received 501 cans that were donated to local food pantries.

Council also appointed Jake Dougherty, executive director of Wheeling Heritage, to the board of the Ohio Valley Regional Transportation Authority at Wednesday’s meeting.

“Over the last several years, I’ve had the chance to observe and analyze and better understand how the public transportation system is working here in the city and different areas in which it can be improved.” Dougherty said. “I think it’s a critical part of the infrastructure and amenities providing access to all people for things they need in the community.”

In addition, Herron said city employee Andy Harris will now serve as the city’s water pollution control superintendent after former superintendent Danny Villani retired.

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