Enough Is Enough

Editor, News-Register:

I happened to catch a TV interview of Mr. Steve Coon, president of Coon Restoration and Sealants, after the Tuesday, March 5, City Council meeting. I also read the subsequent newspaper article in the Wheeling Intelligencer (March 6). Mr. Coon said, “We’ve gone about as far as we can go, parking is really the biggest hurdle that we’ve got to overcome.” I might ask Mr. Coon, what do you mean by “we’ve”? Have you got a mouse in your pocket? Let’s see if I get this straight: Your firm, along with a Columbus, Ohio doctor, have purchased the old Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel building for a rumored $800,000. The reason you were able to purchase that building so cheap (probably take $25 to $30 million to build today) was because there was no parking readily available. I would venture to guess that if the citizens of Wheeling were dumb enough to build you a garage, there would be an immediate significant increase in your property’s value, regardless if you went ahead with any renovation plan.

So I call that unjust enrichment at the expense of the taxpayers. I continue to say this doesn’t pass the smell test, if truth be told, maybe the Columbus doctor and Coon Restoration and Sealants had some kind of commitment from the mayor and city administration to build them a garage if they purchased the building. Otherwise a prudent investor would not have purchased a 12-story building that had been empty for a number of years, had suffered significant water damage to the upper floors, was in need of a new roof, and probably in need of removal and remediation of mold and possibly asbestos containing materials, on the slim chance the city would build them a parking garage free of cost. Does this story remind you of the “Sting”? Watching and reading Mr. Coon’s presentation, I came away with the feeling that he’s pretty slick.

Kind of reminds you of the used car salesman telling a potential buyer that the vehicle he was looking at was previously owned by an old lady who only drove the car on Sundays from her home to the Piggley Wiggley. Will say or do anything to close the deal.

We West Virginians have been characterized as being somewhat slow, and unfortunately, if you’ve watched the story unfold of the proposed Mid-Town parking garage you might tend to agree. First, our mayor, council, and city manager offer to lease land for 30 years at a cost of $5.4 million to build the garage on (taxpayers will foot the bill), then those same individuals tacitly (I assume) agree to build a parking garage for $12 million (their estimate, not mine), again at the cost of the taxpayers. So far I do not see an upside for the less than 27,000 people in Wheeling.

If I recall correctly, there are about 12,000 of those resident taxpayers actually working, and 15.5 percent of them are at or below the poverty level. I’m sorry, but I seriously doubt the sincerity of the mayor’s comment when he was interviewed after Tuesday’s council meeting: “We’ve got to look out for the best interests of citizens,” or words to that effect. My heartfelt thanks to all of you who have emailed, called, and sent me letters and documents, expressing your thanks and words of encouragement. But this shouldn’t be a spectator sport; you need to write, call, or email the mayor, your council person, the city manager, and the news media. Tell them enough is enough, when they say, “what’s in your wallet?”

Hope springs eternal!

J. Jacobs

Wheeling

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