Reveal Plan For Property

If Wheeling officials have a plan for property at 19th and Jacob streets, they should let the public in on it.

City Council members are expected to discuss the site, now owned by Frank Calabrese’s Americo Inc., during the meeting next Tuesday. An ordinance authorizing purchase of the property was given first reading earlier this month and could be adopted next week.

Proposals for the city to buy the site, including approximately three acres of land and some badly dilapidated buildings, have been controversial since last year. Initially, city officials wanted to use the land for a $14.5 million public safety building.

City acquisition of the former Ohio Valley Medical Center complex changed that. The plan now is to relocate the police department to the Valley Professional Center building and construct a new fire department facility on OVMC property.

But city officials still want to buy the 19th and Jacob site from Calabrese, for $150,000.

That has stirred controversy for various reasons. No doubt one of them is that officials’ justification for the purchase has been limited to a desire to remove an eyesore, remediate an environmental problem and make the site available for development in the future.

Of what? No one has said.

Spending a significant amount of taxpayers’ money in the hope someone will redevelop the property is one thing — and the distaste with with some critics view the plan is understandable.

But if city officials have a concrete proposal — and there are rumors they do — the situation may be viewed in a different light.

We can think of no good reason why Mayor Glenn Elliott should not let the public in on the secret, if there is one. If there is a plan, it should be revealed before council votes on the matter.


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