Wheeling City Council will recognize 1300 McColloch St. as a redevelopment site for a new "restaurant with lounge," but Councilmen Vernon Seals and Robert "Herk" Henry would have preferred a different outcome.
That location was the site of the former Getaway Club, a bar that Seals said many residents considered a nuisance. Wheeling resident Alex Coogan and two friends want to reopen the site. At a Development Committee meeting in March, Coogan said he wants the former bar to be a restaurant more than anything else, noting he intends to purchase full kitchen supplies.
"We are really stretching the idea of a 'redevelopment site,'" Seals said Tuesday. "I think this should go no further."
Photo by Zach Macormac
Councilman Vernon Seals advises Wheeling City Council that allowing a new restaurant with a lounge to open in East Wheeling will create a nuisance for nearby residents.
Coogan at the committee meeting had presented a list of 25 signatures he claimed were from residents of the McColloch Street area supporting the redevelopment, but Seals pointed out a lack of addresses to accompany them.
"They could be living in Follansbee or Charleston or wherever; I don't know," Seals said of the names on the petition Tuesday. He raised the point at both meetings.
Seals also noted that although Coogan does not want limited video lottery gambling at the site, he expects him to seek that right in the future.
"I'll bet $50 they'll be back in a few months asking for video lottery," Seals said, adding he expects the site to evolve into a nuisance such as the Getaway Club reportedly was.
Henry said he received several phone calls from concerned residents asking him to vote against the resolution.
Vice Mayor Eugene Fahey said he is "not for or against" the redevelopment site, but is "strongly for a public hearing" to give the neighborhood a chance to speak on the issue.
The Wheeling Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on a special use permit for the site at its meeting at 6 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers, second floor, City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St.
Council approved the resolution regarding the redevelopment site in a 4-2 decision with Councilman James Tiu absent. Seal and Henry, both of whom represent portions of East Wheeling where the site is located, voted against the resolution. Fahey and members Gloria Delbrugge and Don Atkinson as well as Mayor Andy McKenzie supported the resolution.
Seals also insisted City Manager Robert Herron act immediately on the former Wheeling Police Department firing range on South Front Street. Seals made the demand in response to complaints about the building being an eyesore. Herron said he has been exploring all options to move the process forward, but the presence of lead has been making demolition more difficult.
Wheeling resident Charles Ballouz approached council seeking action to stop the loss of businesses in downtown Wheeling. He cited the Peking Garden restaurant that has been closed for more than 10 years and the liquidation sale to mark the close of Life Savers Health Foods and More on Market Street.
McKenzie asked if Ballouz has any suggestions on the matter, but Ballouz said he had no ideas.
In other business, council observed a public hearing for reprogramming of contingencies and other leftover funds of the Community Development Block Grant program.
No residents stepped forward, but Herron noted $322,000 of that will pay for a new pumper truck for the Wheeling Fire Department and $125,072.88 will fund new curbs and sidewalks on Virginia Street.
Council also voted in two 6-0 decisions to purchase a 2012 recycling truck with $98,855.99 of the Consolidated Investment Fund and two 2011 Spyder, three-wheeled motorcycles with $46,398 of Highway Safety Grant money. Police Chief Robert Matheny said the three-wheeled motorcycles will be used in drunken driving prevention and enforcement.
The next meeting of Wheeling City Council will be at 7 p.m. April 19 in the Council Chambers, second floor, City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St.