Council to vote on property acquisitions

PARKERSBURG – Several final ordinance readings, including some land acquisitions, will be up for a vote at Tuesday’s Parkersburg City Council meeting.

Council meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers on the second floor of the city’s Municipal Building in downtown Parkersburg. The meeting is open to the public.

Council is expected to approve two resolutions Tuesday, one reappointing Rebekah Mathis-Stump as an administrative law judge for a three-year term ending Feb. 23, 2016, and a second resolution authorizing alcohol sales during events at Point Park and Bicentennial Park, including the Point Park concert series and the Chamber of Commerce’s Chili Cook Off.

Several ordinances will be up for final readings Tuesday. Most notably is a planned land swap agreement that would allow the city to acquire a building at 113 Ann St. The building, which is located near Point Park on the inside of the flood wall, potentially will be used to create a permanent marketplace for downtown Parkersburg, similar to the Capitol Market in Charleston.

The city would give up a parking lot at First and Juliana streets in exchange for the Ann Street property. The property would be owned by the Urban Renewal Authority, which has scheduled a meeting immediately following Tuesday’s council meeting to accept ownership of the parcel and transfer it back to the city.

Council also is looking at a purchase and sale agreement with Pennzoil-Quaker State to acquire a property off Keever Street, between 18th and 20th streets, for $100.

City Development Director Ann Conageski said the property in question is about eight acres of green space. An oil change station and underground tanks were removed in the past.

The property would be used to develop a walking trail on the river-side of the flood wall, she said.

“It’s part of a long-term goal, to have a walking trail along the Ohio River,” she said. “We either have to acquire property or the right-of-way to develop that.”

Councilman John Kelly argued against the move during the first reading but was out-voted. Kelly raised concerns over the environmental quality of the property, fearing the city could be stuck with a polluted piece of land. City Attorney Joe Santer said if council agrees to purchase the property, officials will gain access to environmental reports, could do their own environmental survey and if information indicated the property was unusable, could walk away from the deal within the initial 30-day period of the agreement.

Kelly also expressed concerns over part of the agreement that would prohibit the city from building any sort of park on the property. Mayor Bob Newell said he does not believe a walking trail would be considered a park and would not fall under that restriction.

Council also will vote and hold a public hearing on a plan to establish rates for a short-term parking lot at Third Street and Phillips Court Alley. The rate would be $1 an hour.

Council is expected to approve a rezoning of a property on the west side of Emerson Avenue near 27th Street. The property will be used for an elderly high-rise facility.