Another Major Demolition Contract Awarded
WHEELING — Officials in the city of Wheeling remained focused on cleaning up dilapidated properties across various neighborhoods in town, as this week city council moved forward with another round of demolitions.
Council unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing City Manager Robert Herron to spend $395,837 with Raze International Inc. of Shadyside for abatement and demolition of several dilapidated properties.
The funding for the demolitions will come from the city’s Project Fund, which in recent months has been bolstered by federal funding through the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act reimbursements.
Properties being torn down and removed include: 22 Clearview Ave., 517 Warwood Ave. (damaged by fire), 11 Mt. Wood Road, 121 Kenny St., 131-14th St., 4005 Jacob St. (including a shed), 159 15th St., 161 15th St. (including a garage), 193 15th St., 1218 and 1220 Baltimore St., 110 Ohio St. and 523 and 523 ½ S. Front St.
“This is a large demolition contract which will be another step in revitalizing our neighborhoods,” said Vice Mayor Chad Thalman.
Of the total project cost, $92,537 is dedicated toward asbestos abatement, officials said. The rest of the cost is for demolition.
“While it’s taken some time to get these properties prepared for raise and repair orders, I’m truly thankful for the citywide teamwork that we’ve employed to really get this work done,” Councilwoman Rosemary Ketchum said. “One of my priorities as a member of city council is to address what we can do to increase resident retention while simultaneously working on increasing the attraction of new folks to the Friendly City. I think we can all agree that addressing vacant and dilapidated properties is a key component to that work.”
Ketchum said she was “incredibly grateful” to the city administration and fellow members of city council for taking on the removal of dilapidated properties as a top priority.
“It’s incredibly exciting to see progress made to clean up blight in our neighborhoods,” Ketchum said. “Ward 3 is particularly impacted by the existence of abandoned and dilapidated properties, and our successful efforts to improve overall quality of life for our residence is due in large part to this demolition work. With that said, I am dedicated to seeing that we protect structures worth saving while ensuring we eliminate any and all that present a clear deficit to public wellbeing.”
Councilman Ben Seidler, who campaigned this year on a platform of keeping a laser focus on cleaning up the city’s neighborhoods, said the city has been taking great strides toward this goal in recent months.
“The efforts the city has taken to address these issues has been incredible,” Seidler said. “It’s been a great fight, and they’re doing an excellent job.”
In other action this week, members of city council approved an ordinance by a split vote to change zoning of property along West Washington Avenue from Residential to EMO – Educational Medical Office. This rezoning will allow property owner Chris Duplaga to move forward with plans to build a new medical office complex with a handful of doctors and dentist offices there.
The request for rezoning of the site has been met with a mix of support and opposition from residents, members of the Wheeling Planning Commission and city council. However, a clear majority has voiced support for the development of the property among members of both the planning commission and council.
This week, the ordinance to rezone the property passed by a vote of 5-1, with Seidler voting against the measure. Councilman Jerry Sklavounakis did not vote on the measure during the virtual meeting, as technical difficulties prohibited him from being present when the legislation came up for a vote. However, Sklavounakis later indicated he supported the recommendation of the planning commission.
Also this week, the city manager told council members that four proposals were received last week for funding through bond anticipation notes to allow the city to complete water line replacement downtown. The funding is being sought after council approved legislation to seek up to $8 million in bond anticipation notes for the project, which will replace main water lines beneath Main Street and Market Street downtown before the Downtown Streetscape Project begins next year.
“I’m happy to report the low bid was WesBanco bank here in Wheeling,” Herron said. “The interest rate that they presented was 1.4 percent. So there will be a supplemental resolution presented to city council at the next council meeting shoring all of that up.”
The bid opening for the project is Dec. 18, Herron noted, adding that the city still anticipates construction to begin in January on the water line project before the Streetscape work begins in the spring.