Wood County officials discuss holding center

PARKERSBURG – Disposition has been postponed until next spring for the now vacant Second Street property where the holding center once stood.

Wood County commissioners have been discussing plans to install a parking lot on the land. County officials also received a proposal from Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell for use of the property, which included transitional parking spots and a 17,000-square-foot “Urban Dog Park.”

County officials on Thursday looked at an overhead map of the downtown area, discussing possibilities for lease or metered parking, employee parking and other sites that might be available for a dog park.

“I personally think we need to wait until next spring to do anything with it. The dog park issue is certainly unsettled, waiting would give us time to look at all the possibilities,” said commission President Wayne Dunn.

“We want to hold open the option that the land could be developed in the future, possibly a high rise for the elderly, or another use. Someone might want to develop it,” Commissioner Steve Gainer said.

Commissioner Blair Couch said he was concerned about the costs involved in setting up and maintaining a dog park on county property. He suggested options for relocating some employee parking to have a more centralized location.

“There’s a lot of upkeep, expense involved with a dog park and that concerns me the most,” Couch said. “I think it’s great the mayor is trying to be progressive,” Couch said, noting several other downtown locations where a dog park might be located, closer to residential areas.

“I understand the mayor is trying to promote downtown development,” Couch said.

“The cost to develop a dog park might be high, but I don’t think there’s much maintenance involved,” Dunn said. “But my question would be are we trying to make it for local residents or visitors.”

Gainer said the city wanted to have the park available for residents living in the area of downtown as well as the Blennerhassett Hotel, which is “pet friendly” for patrons.

“The park might be better located in the area where the flagpole is located,” Gainer said.

As proposed by Newell, the dog park would include benches, a fountain and fence.

“The city park might be optimal for a dog park,” Couch noted.

Holding center personnel as well as the Home Confinement Program, which was also housed in the former holding center were relocated to the Wood County Justice Center in January 2012. The holding center had been sitting vacant ever since, costing the county more than $8,000 to maintain. The center is a former jail. It’s located next to the county maintenance building, which sits at the corner of Avery and Second streets and formerly served as the law enforcement building. The sheriff’s department was also moved to the justice center.

Prior to moving ahead with razing the structure, county officials contacted state and federal correctional officials about the possible lease or purchase of the building, but to no avail.