Moundsville resident Joseph Parriott probably was preaching to the choir Wednesday when he urged city officials to improve the community's appearance. Still, his comments during a public hearing about a proposed new comprehensive plan for Moundsville put an exclamation point on the concern.
Not just in Moundsville but throughout the Ohio Valley, municipal officials recognize the need to clean up our towns and cities. Tourists tend to visit places where buildings appear well-kept, sidewalks and streets are in good condition and littering is kept under control. Business people considering locations for new offices or plants have similar views.
Like other cities, Moundsville is required by state law to have a comprehensive plan. It amounts to a blueprint local officials use to guide their efforts for years to come.
Parriott took the opportunity to voice his opinion about the proposed new plan. It needs to emphasize community beautification, he said. "We have weeds. We have exposed coal waste," he noted. "There is no way to attract tourists to Marshall County and expect them to return."
He is right, of course. The good news is that most city officials understand that.
But the bad news is that "beautifying" a community can be very costly. New sidewalks and repaved streets are expensive. Keeping litter cleaned up can be a full-time job - or two. Tearing down dilapidated buildings strains municipal budgets.
Parriott is correct in stressing such tasks should be emphasized in the comprehensive plan. But on another front, city officials hope to make it a priority.
Moundsville is applying for home rule authority under state law. In essence, it would give local officials more flexibility than state law allows most municipalities. One initiative being considered would make it easier to deal with dilapidated buildings.
Under the comprehensive plan, creation of an urban renewal authority to deal with "slum and blight" areas is being considered.
Community cleanups are not the most glamorous priorities for progress. And Moundsville already is an attractive town, in comparison with many others. But city officials are right to consider the issue a priority. Sticking with it will be an important contributor to economic development.