PARKERSBURG - Wood County commissioners on Thursday tabled a decision on a funding request from the Washington Avenue Historical Community Association Inc.
In a letter to county officials, association President John R. Swales III said the nonprofit group's purpose is to preserve the heritage of the historical district, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and "to promote its value as a community asset."
Sales' letter said the association has approved construction of four six-foot commemorative pillars; two each at the head and foot of Washington Avenue. The pillars are to be made of modular brick, capped with limestone, and topped with limestone finials and finished with antique brass plates.
Photo by Pamela Brust
Wood County commissioners postponed a decision on a request for funding from the Washington Avenue Historical Community Association. Commissioners Wayne Dunn and Steve Gainer were present for Thursday’s meeting, Commissioner Blair Couch was attending a West Virginia Counties Risk Pool Insurance program meeting on behalf of the commission, but teleconferenced into Thursday’s commission meeting.
"Parkersburg Public Works officials, local utility companies, the Architectural Review Board and affected residents have all agreed to let us proceed with this worthwhile project," according to Swales. Total cost of the pillars is estimated at $9,000.
According to association officials, the group has been raising funds for the project.
"So far, we've earmarked $6,000 toward the pillars. For the remainder, the WAHCA is relying on a $3,000 grant from the Governor's Community Participation Program requested in March of this year," the letter states. Swales said he's been assured the grant request has been approved and signed by the governor.
Wood County administrator Marty Seufer said there was confirmation through the governor's development office the grant will be awarded. "But there is no signed grant contract yet," the administrator said.
Swales' letter noted distribution of the funds from the grant is a complicated process and usually takes about six months to complete. He noted the group is anxious to complete the pillar project before the end of this calendar year, so the group asked the commissioners to consider advancing them $3,000 "in anticipation of receipt of the grant."
"For its part, WATCH will honor all terms, conditions and covenants the program requires and will provide the commission with any and all documentation necessary to seek reimbursement of the $3,000 advance from the West Virginia Development Office. Materials alone will exceed the $3,000 grant limit," the letter noted.
Commissioners Wane Dunn and Steve Gainer said they were not sure whether the group planned to reimburse the funds from the grant, or were asking for the funds separate from the grant.
"As long as we get the money back, I'd be OK with it. But we didn't fund a lot of other worthwhile organizations last summer and cut others. I think the pillars they are describing would look sharp there," Dunn said. "The letter implied they are going to reimburse the money, but I really don't know why they can't just wait till the grant funds come," Dunn said.
Gainer made a motion not to approve the request. Action on the motion was delayed when the county officials said they would table the matter until the historic association officials could be contacted and asked to come in personally to make a presentation and answer questions.
"Did they ask the city of Parkersburg for any help, it's a city street. I doubt if people in Mineral Wells, and Waverly want to pay for pillars on Washington Avenue," Gainer said.
The commissioners asked Seufer to contact Swales and invite him to meet with the officials.
Commissioners Wayne Dunn and Steve Gainer attended Thursday's meeting. Commissioner Blair Couch was attending the West Virginia Counties Risk Pool Insurance meeting on behalf of the commission and teleconferenced into Thursday's meeting.