PARKERSBURG - Parkersburg City Council members closed out the year on Santa Claus' nice list Tuesday, voting to fund a number of projects.
Members voted to expend $10,000 to assist with a proposed baseball feasibility study during Tuesday's final council meeting of 2012.
Council members also approved funding for a traffic light at Park Shopping Center and funding for computer tablets for council members.
Photo by Jody Murphy
Parkersburg City Council President Tom Joyce, left, dressed as Santa Claus, talks with City Clerk Connie Shaffer prior to the start of Tuesday’s Parkersburg City Council meeting.
Mayor Bob Newell used his executive message to sway council members to fund the study. He noted the city has taken the lead in pursuit of a possible franchise and if baseball comes to the area, economic development will follow. Newell said there are lots of private interests interested the project, but the feasibility study needs to be the next step in the process.
"Our mission is economic development," he said.
"Nothing helps grow a tax base like people coming into the city and baseball does this."
Newell reiterated public money should not be used to fund a stadium. No representative from the Wood County Economic Development Authority, or its sports arm, were present.
With little discussion members voted 7-2 to fund the city's portion of the study that will determine if the area can support a Frontier League baseball stadium and team. Council members Sharyn Tallman and Nancy Wilcox voted against the study.
Wilcox said she voted against the resolution because she had no assurance the franchise would be in Parkersburg.
"I have not been fully convinced that if we put the money in we won't see this in Parkersburg,'" she said.
Council members also approved $125,000 for the traffic signal at the entrance to the Park Shopping Center, by a 7-1 vote. Tallman was the lone no vote.
The money is contingent upon improvements being made to the center. Ron Salter, with Salter & Associates, said the new signal was needed to attract new businesses to the center.
"The traffic light is extremely important to talk to the big box vendors," he said.
Council also unanimously approved, without discussion, $3,000 for the purchase of computer tablets for its members.
Council President Tom Joyce chaired the meeting dressed as Santa Claus. Joyce, along with Brad Kimes and Tallman, closed out the final meeting of their tenures on council with little fanfare, though Kimes spoke at the end of the meeting thanking employees and officials for their work.
Councilman John Sandy, whose term also ends this month, did not attend.
Newell delivered a 10-minute executive message touching on a number of issues up for consideration. He also welcomed back police Chief Joe Martin from 11 weeks of training at the FBI Academy in Quantico.
The mayor briefly discussed raises for city employees. He announced plans to provide a $2 an hour raise for city police officers.
"They are easily behind all major cities (in the state)," he said.
Newell said raises will be given to employees and he will present something to council soon. The mayor also said he plans to eliminate six "higher level positions (through attrition) that will save the city approximately $300,000.
"All money that will go to raises will come from our own restructuring," he said.