Works committee discusses park plan

PARKERSBURG – The Public Works Committee of Parkersburg City Council met Tuesday night to discuss a plan for a “concert park” presented by Norm Payne, a Parkersburg resident and businessman.

If the plan is approved, Mayor Bob Newell said the land, near Fort Neal Skate Park and the E.L.I.T.E. Center, would be leased to Payne by the city for him to build and maintain an entertainment facility.

Payne provided floor and business plans, explaining he would like to use the land for performances. He wants to focus on bringing in “big name” entertainers, he said.

“I don’t think I have to rely on Parkersburg alone to make this a good business,” Payne said of the concert park idea. “I think it will attract tourists and bring people from all over.”

Payne said the park could be good for the city, bringing people to stay in hotels, eat at local restaurants and shop.

Councilman John Kelly, a member of the public works committee, gave his approval for the plan to be set into motion. However, he told Payne he would like to hear more about the idea.

“It’s not a park and it’s kind of lost land for (the city),” he said. “Let’s hear what else you have to do.”

Councilman Jim Reed, a committee member, said he had concerns about the beer sales. He said council is usually split on bringing alcohol to open venues such as the one Payne was describing. He said he wasn’t sure if the decision made it to council that it would approve this.

“How heavily are you relying on beer sales to do this?” Reed asked. “Council doesn’t always approve beer sales; (the city) is usually pretty split on it.”

Payne said if he had the money, which he didn’t believe was an issue, he wanted to begin the operation this year.

“I would like to hold some type of event this year just to introduce it,” he said.

Payne said the park could host concerts, orchestra events, school functions and theatrical performances. He emphasized the use of uniformed police officers during the events, as well as other security measures.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority was outlined in the plan as having expressed an interest in shuttling people for a fee during events in the concert area.

The committee took no action Tuesday on the concert park plan.