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Parkersburg Municipal Planning Commission forwards 2030 plan

Parkersburg City Planner Janney Lockman, front, and Municipal Planning Commission members Sherry Dugan, left, and Eric Gumm listen during a presentation on the city’s 2030 comprehensive plan during a special meeting Tuesday in Parkersburg City Council chambers. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — The Municipal Planning Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to forward Parkersburg’s 2030 comprehensive plan update to Parkersburg City Council for approval.

Required by West Virginia law to be revisited and revised every 10 years, the plan provides guidelines – not mandates – for city officials to consider as they address land use, housing, economic development, transportation and public services.

It was put together by the Parkersburg Development Department and consultants from the firm of McBride Dale Clarion, with input from a local steering committee. Members of the public provided feedback in a public event earlier this year, before COVID-19 pandemic restrictions kicked in, and more recently during a Nov. 4 open house at the Parkersburg Art Center and online.

The five major goals of the plan “came directly from the citizen input, the steering committee work on what was important,” said Emily Crow, with McBride Dale Clarion, who participated in Tuesday’s special commission meeting at the Municipal Building via video conference.

Those goals are:

Parkersburg Development Director Rickie Yeager thanks City Planner Janney Lockman and members of the steering committee for their work on the city’s 2030 comprehensive plan during a special Municipal Planning Commission meeting to review the plan Tuesday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

∫ Parkersburg will promote, protect, enhance and capitalize on our local assets.

∫ Parkersburg will take a new and active approach to economic development for a prosperous future.

∫ Parkersburg will endorse services and activities to foster resident engagement, activate grassroots efforts, instill community pride and improve the well-being of the community.

∫ Parkersburg will provide strategic investment and support for development of diverse housing products to improve the housing stock and living environments for our current and future residents.

∫ Parkersburg will strategically invest in infrastructure and redevelopment to create great places and catalyze positive change in the community.

Jill Parsons, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, served on the steering committee. Speaking to the commission Tuesday, she said the area’s aging housing stock is a frequent concern she hears from employers in and looking at the area.

“It’s kind of the keystone issue for this plan,” Crow said. “A lot of the newer housing is moving to your adjacent jurisdictions.”

Strategies recommended to address that challenge include targeting a specific pilot neighborhood and commercial area to encourage extensive reinvestment and work with social service organizations to help create housing products to meet the need of homeless individuals.

Some public feedback emphasized the need for alternative means of transportation.

“Whenever possible, try to improve infrastructure for bicyclists,” one comment from the open house said. “Ex: When repaving or building new roads, add a bike lane. Also could do this when tearing up sidewalks for underground lines, etc.”

In a departure from previous plans, this version identified several focus areas with more specific recommendations.

One example was the Memorial Bridge gateway, which includes the Park Shopping Center. Another is the Pettyville bypass, which is actually outside city limits.

“Annexation would be an option in those areas or some kind of partnership with the county,” Crow said.

The plan will be considered by City Council at its Dec. 8 meeting. The draft document can be viewed online at www.pkb2030.org.

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