Sen. Shelley Moore-Capito Checks In On PPP Spending at Oglebay
WHEELING — Wheeling Park Commission President and CEO David Lindelow is hoping for heavy snowfalls this year, and for a strong ski season that will help take Oglebay Park financially through the winter.
While most events were canceled this summer due to COVID-19, the summer has played on at Oglebay Park this year with the help of $1.97 million in loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore-Capito, R-W.Va., visited Monday with representatives of the Wheeling Park Commission, the Oglebay Park Foundation and WesBanco to learn how the money has been used by the park system, how it has helped them, and what it means to them in their future.
In late March, the Wheeling Park Commission announced the layoffs of all but essential employees at the park. After the loans were received through the Small Business Administration in the spring, all 343 employees there were put back to work. The PPP money received was used for payroll, and to pay utilities, Lindelow said.
“We kept everybody working all summer,” he said. “We had three goals — keep everybody safe, keep everybody working and watch the cash. We wanted to survive.”
Oglebay Park actually has had “a great summer” as people looking for outdoor activity have taken advantage of the amenities there, Lindelow said.
For example, the golf courses have been very busy, as have the walking trails.
But weddings scheduled to happen at the park this summer largely have had to be rescheduled, Lindelow told Capito.
In addition, much corporate business at the park was canceled, resulting in revenue that won’t be recovered, he said.
“Our goal is to break even for the year,” Lindelow said.
He predicts the positive momentum of the summer should carry over this fall until the start of the Winter Festival of Lights season, and that festival attendance should be strong this year.
The winter months, however, could be a challenge for the park, according to Lindelow.
There has been investment in the lodging opportunities in the park, and there is a need to fill them during January, February and March.
Oglebay Park is looking to create more events and opportunities for the public during that time, he said.
“Maybe it will snow hard this year and our ski season will pick up,” Lindelow said. “We’re due for a good snow season this year.”
Eriks Janelsins, Oglebay Foundation president and CEO, reported donations were up this season. He believes this is because more people have come to appreciate what the park means to the community.
“In this time of desperation, I think it really felt more like a community park than ever before,” he said. “People are excited, and are really coming out.”
Capito was pleased with what she heard from the Wheeling Park Commission and Oglebay Foundation leadership.
She said as a child growing up in Glen Dale, she loved coming to Oglebay Park to the pool and seeing the gardens.
The park doesn’t just give the public a place to exercise, she said.
Oglebay Park also helped to improve the mental condition of its guests — many of whom had been quarantined at home during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Capito.
“We were all quarantined in — then we could all get out and look at the gardens and do the hiking trails…” she said. “And being together and enjoying things as a family is quite nice.”