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Council to Move on Design Of Police, Fire Headquarters

The Valley Professional Building on the former campus of Ohio Valley Medical Center is expected to be refurbished and redesigned as a new headquarters for the Wheeling Police Department.

WHEELING — The ink has hardly dried on the closing paperwork in which the city of Wheeling took ownership of the former Ohio Valley Medical Center Property, but city council is set to move forward with design work for new headquarters to house its police and fire departments.

On Tuesday afternoon, newly-sworn members of Wheeling City Council will hold their first meeting as a group since the six council members and Mayor Glenn Elliott all took the oath of office for four-year terms that officially began July 1. City officials appear to be wasting no time getting new projects off the ground, as a full slate of new ordinances on Tuesday’s agenda are set for first readings.

As planned in the purchase agreement with former owner Medical Properties Trust (MPT), the city closed on the OVMC acquisition just before the end of June. The city will now work to provide some needed repairs to buildings, raze any structures that need to be torn down and work to get a number of the existing buildings on the campus into the hands of private sector developers as quickly as possible.

Officials have noted that since the city now owns the OVMC campus, the plan to create a new Public Safety Building has shifted a focus to that property as the most likely location. City leaders are looking to redevelop the Valley Professional Center on Chapline Street as a new headquarters for the Wheeling Police Department, which is currently housed in cramped quarters in the City-County Building.

A new headquarters for the Wheeling Fire Department will likely be built from the ground up somewhere else on the former OVMC campus.

Funds for the creation of these facilities will stem from Wheeling’s new City Service Fee, which was put into place at the beginning of this year.

An ordinance being introduced before city council on Tuesday authorizes City Manager Robert Herron to expand funds in the amount of $522,540 with M&G Architects and Engineers of Wheeling for design services for the Valley Professional Building construction to convert the facility into a new police headquarters. The ordinance also calls for initial design services for a new fire station.

“We don’t have a definite site selected for a new fire station just yet,” Herron said, noting this legislation allows for an initial design.

Previous plans for a Public Safety Building had both police and fire headquarters housed in one new shared facility. With the option to acquire OVMC, however, city leaders looked more closely at cost savings of locating the new facilities there.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda is an ordinance for a tax levy renewal for the city’s contribution toward the Ohio Valley Regional Transportation Authority. The tax levy is a renewal and not a tax increase, Herron noted on Friday, explaining that this was “pass through” funding that the city collects and transfers to OVRTA. This excess levy generates approximately $1.3 million from property taxes and appears on the ballots every five years. If the ordinance is approved, the levy will appear on the November ballots and will be in effect during fiscal years beginning July 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Other new pieces of legislation on Tuesday’s city council agenda include:

* an ordinance authorizing the city manager to expend funds in the amount of $205,510 with the Bank of New York Mellon for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 108 Payments to be charged to the city’s Community Development Block Grant fund.

* a resolution directing city officials to execute necessary documents and procedures to provide for a downtown facade improvement grant for Dean Connors, 1061 Market St., in an amount not to exceed $7,019.95.

* an ordinance authorizing the city manager to expend funds in the amount of $55,992 with Bearcom of Dallas, Texas, for equipment to outfit police vehicles to be charged to the city’s sales tax fund.

* an ordinance fixing the assessments for the cost of razing dilapidated structures on certain properties in the city. If passed, the assessments on a list of properties throughout the city will become liens on the real estate upon which the structures are located.

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