Making Better First Impressions

Even if they do not fit squarely into the concept of a long-range comprehensive plan, ideas offered this week to improve Wheeling deserve consideration. One, making highway entrances to the city more attractive, could do a lot of good for a relatively small expenditure.

Two public meetings were held this week to obtain input on the new comprehensive plan being developed by and for the city. Required by state law, the plan will serve as a sort of combination wish-list and blueprint for progress in the future.

Participants in the meetings have been told to think big, in terms of long-term strategies for Wheeling. But some good, thoughtful ideas that could be implemented without waiting for the comprehensive plan to be completed have come up, too.

One man at the meeting Wednesday afternoon suggested Wheeling could create a better first impression among visitors by making the areas around Interstate 70 exits and other highway entrances into the city more attractive. It is an excellent idea – one that is so obvious efforts toward it have been made many times.

For example, motorists using the I-70 eastbound exit to get onto Main Street may notice a tall, red sign with white lettering welcoming them to Wheeling. Those who use the next exit, to National Road, may be pleased by flowers planted in a median island and maintained by the city.

Clearly, however, more could be done at those exits and other entry points.

First impressions of a city count, among visitors who may become regulars, people considering new businesses, retirees thinking of relocating to Wheeling, and others who can help our city.

City officials ought to talk about the idea and seek ideas and cost estimates for implementing it. Who knows? Someone may have suggestions that could do a lot of good at very low cost. We’ll never know until we ask.