Parkersburg, West Virginia DOH plan sidewalk project

PARKERSBURG – The city of Parkersburg will be working with the West Virginia Division of Highways to install sidewalks on a section of Division Street Extension to improve safety for students walking to Franklin Elementary Center in south Parkersburg.

During its regular meeting Tuesday night, Parkersburg City Council gave unanimous approval to a resolution for the project as part of the Save Routes to Schools program.

Under the project, city Development Director Ann Conageski said $100,000 will be provided for infrastructure improvements, including the installation of sidewalks and curbs along Division Street Extension near Franklin Elementary.

Another $12,000 will be provided for non-infrastructure activities, such as traffic safety lessons and “walk to school” events for students.

Mayor Bob Newell said the application process began about three years ago when members of Franklin Elementary’s PTA approached city officials about the need to improve safety in that area for students walking to and from school.

With council’s approval Tuesday to sign the agreement, the project can move forward but it may be some time before construction can begin. Conageski said with the steps that still need to be taken in the process at the state and local level, it will likely be the summer of 2015 before the work is done.

In other business, council members were told the Dec. 24 city council meeting has been moved to Dec. 17 due to the holiday.

Prior to the start of Tuesday’s meeting, council met as the Urban Renewal Authority to discuss two pieces of property.

Conageski told the authority about discussions between the city and Shell to acquire the former Pennzoil-Quaker State property off Keever Street, between 18th and 20th streets. The site includes property on both sides of the city floodwall.

Council approved the first phase of a property purchase for the site in May. Since that time, Conageski said the owners have agreed to lift certain restrictions on the site which might have prevented the city from putting in a walking and biking path on the side of the floodwall adjacent to the Ohio River.

Plans call for the property on the interior side of the floodwall to be left as greenspace as part of the city’s storm water management program.

Conageski said she has been working with the property owner to address any potential remediation needs on the property, due to its former use as an industrial site. That includes assisting the city to get the property put in the Volunteer Remediation Program through the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection.

Participation in that program can provide additional liability protection to the city if any cleanup is necessary, Conageski said.

To be part of the remediation program, a preliminary visual study will need to be done. If there are potential contamination problems indicated by that study, a second phase involving more intensive study through the use of core drilling and other sampling methods will be conducted.

As part of the agreement, Conageski said Shell has pledged financial assistance if the second phase study is required.

The authority approved a motion to accept the property in a 7-1 vote, with Councilman John Kelly dissenting.

In other business, the authority reviewed a request by Wells Fargo to donate property at 1116 Lynn St. to the city of Parkersburg.

The company acquired the property, which includes a residence, through foreclosure. Conageski said a review by the city indicated it could cost between $21,000-$29,000 to rehabilitate the residence, while demolition would cost about $7,500.

The authority approved a motion to accept the property donation if it includes $7,500 to cover the demolition costs. The motion passed on a 7-1 vote, with Kelly dissenting.