Capitalizing On The Heritage Port

Water frontage can be a big advantage for communities attempting to reinvent themselves. Just consider the number of cities where harbor areas and riverwalks have become centers of economic development.

Wheeling is blessed by being beside the Ohio River. The existence of the Heritage Port, along with the adjacent WesBanco Arena, may be something on which we can capitalize.

Mayor Glenn Elliott revealed this week he is working to establish a “Committee on Heritage Port Optimization.” Presumably, he wants it to come up with a blueprint for making the riverfront area a more vibrant recreational and cultural destination.

Good. A diverse, hard-working, capable panel asked to look at the problem with no preconceived notions should be beneficial.

One aspect of the idea should be viewed skeptically, however. It is that those who hold events at the port should be charged fees, with the proceeds used to maintain and improve the area.

A variety of special events are held at the port. They have demonstrated the area’s potential. Several are staged by nonprofit groups that benefit worthy causes.

Charging such events fees large enough to be meaningful in maintaining and improving the Heritage Port could be very detrimental to the groups, perhaps to the point of driving them away.

Harming those who have made the port an appealing destination — perhaps losing the events they stage — does not make sense. Surely there is some other way to raise money for maintenance and improvements.

Elliott’s idea to take a good look at what can be done at the port is an excellent one. It should start with the philosophy of building on attractions already held at the site.