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Moving Forward In Steubenville

Money remains in short supply for Steubenville municipal officials. Though the city’s fiscal situation is better than just a few years ago, keeping the budget in balance remains a challenge. That is in part due to serious infrastructure challenges.

So, is it smart for City Council members to spend money renovating an old building? Absolutely.

Last spring, Councilman Bob Villamagna proposed using a building occupied previously by the police department to house Municipal Court operations. Remaining space could be converted into a “market house” similar to Wheeling’s Centre Market, Villamagna suggested.

As Villamagna pointed out during a council meeting this week, his plan beats the alternative. “We have to move forward with it somehow, or we’re going to own an abandoned building,” he noted. That would make city government “part of the problem,” he added.

Precisely. But renovating the building will not be inexpensive. Villamagna reported that City Manager Jim Mavromatis is “trying to get numbers together,” in the hope of presenting a report next week.

Once that happens, “hopefully, we’ll be able to scrounge some money up,” Villamagna added.

Unless the building has deteriorated to the point that it cannot be rehabilitated, council has little alternative but to find some use for it.

Wheeling’s Centre Market building has proven to be a magnet for small businesses including shops and restaurants. They provide jobs and contribute to both the city’s economy and municipal coffers. Something similar in Steubenville could do the same for that city.

Steubenville officials face requests for more city spending for any number of purposes — most involving maintaining the status quo. Certainly, that is important, especially when the water and sewer systems are involved.

But if the city is to move forward, ideas like Villamagna’s need to be pursued. If officials can “scrounge some money up” for the market house project, they should consider proceeding with it.

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