By Misty Poe
Times West Virginian
The Marion County Commission is looking for an answer on whether the City of Fairmont will trade property it owns at Palatine Park so they can move forward with a riverfront development plan.
On July 2, the commissioners met with Fairmont City Council and announced that they had officially acquired a large piece of property along the Monongahela River on Fairmont’s East Side, butting up against Palatine Park.
Commissioners revealed a development plan for the property and asked that the City of Fairmont consider trading Palatine Park for the 100 block of Adams Street, the site of the now-demolished State Office Complex.
Upon purchasing the property from CSX Transportation Inc. in June, the county has made progress on the first phase of the riverfront development project. That phase extends from the Bauer Building/Election Center to the site of the former Low Level Bridge and includes clearing out space for walking trails and adding restrooms, fishing docks, boat docks and ramps, a splash park, picnic tables, parking, pavilions, a water garden and maybe even a gazebo for weddings.
But the county wants to extend the redevelopment beyond that, and needs cooperation from the city to do so.
It seems if there has been bad blood between the city and the county since. The county is accusing the city of dragging its feet and standing in the way of progress. The city says the county is bullying them and they need time to make a decision.
We wanted to know what our readers felt about the issue. And you know, we always take the hard questions to our readers at www.timeswv.com in our weekly poll analysis.
Here are the final tallies for the question “The county wants to develop the riverfront on East Side but lacks a key piece of property the City of Fairmont owns at Palatine Park. Where do you stand?”
• The city has resources that would be beneficial to the project. A partnership is in order —16.67 percent
• Egos are clashing and the residents are the ones who will suffer for it. Set aside differences and work out a solution — 36.76 percent
• The county has a great record of park development and has the money to do it. Trade the property — 46.57 percent
In addition to asking people to vote on our website, we sought more detailed comments from readers, who brought in letters, sent emails or responded directly online.
Here are their thoughts:
Riverfront: A giant step forward
I am excited about what our county and city are doing by building the riverfront at Palatine Park. I am also happy the DNR is participating in this project. This is just a beginning of the growth of our City of Fairmont. When outside businesses see what is happening here, they will be motivated to get in on the ground floor and build their business, exactly what our city needs. This is a proven fact, look what Morgantown has done when they built their riverfront. They now have a very prosperous and thriving riverfront. Fairmont is on their way to do the same, and the results will be the same. Small businesses, motels, hotels, and who knows where this my take us in future months. This is a giant step forward.
Let the county develop the property
As a Marion County resident I feel that Palatine Park should be turned over to the county. They have been offered a trade for the 100 Block of Adams Street. This, to me, seems like a more than fair trade.
The City of Fairmont has had control of this park since the 1960s and they have not done anything to develop it. Oh, excuse me they put in a stage, which is very nice and much needed. In 2000 the City of Fairmont had plans to improve the park, but again they said nothing was done due to lack of funds.
On July 2 the announcement was made that the Marion County Commission had purchased the waterfront property from CSX Railroad. They since have taken down trees to improve the view of the water and added more parking, added much needed picnic tables, and are now in the process of adding sidewalks and restrooms.
All of this has been done in the six weeks following the announcement and the City of Fairmont hasn’t had time to discuss this venture, among them, to decide what they want to do.
The time has come to do the “brotherly” thing and let the county develop this property. They have a plan and the finances to follow through with the project for the good of the Marion County citizens.
Let’s get err done!
The City of Fairmont needs to quit dragging their feet and let the county develop the riverfront. It would be great if they partnered together.
I am writing to encourage the City of Fairmont to cooperate with the county, in development of our waterfront at Palatine Park. For many years, the citizens of this county have voiced their frustration with the lack of development. I personally am tired of waiting for something better to come to this town, and have considered moving just miles north or south where city officials haven’t hindered progress. This once-booming town has become nothing more than a rest stop to something better. I vote every election, and every election the same officials who hinder progress are re-elected. Downtown would benefit, as well as the multimillion-dollar gateway if the waterfront was developed to its full potential. Please, as a representative of our newspaper, get the word out that we want to see the development of the waterfront happen.
Turn over the park
City needs to give park to county. Maybe they’ll turn it into something for the people of the county, fun, maybe even profitable.
Don’t let egos
get in the way
Hey city officials, get on with it. Bring better stuff to Fairmont. Don’t let your egos get this shut out.
On Tuesday, council will meet and has said they will go into executive session to discuss the issue. Of course, we hope there’s some kind of resolution that comes about soon that everyone will benefit from. Because in the end, no matter who has been elected to a district or a seat, the decisions they make will have a lasting effect, long after they have left office. We hope everyone keeps that in mind, as well as wants and wishes of the constituents of the county and the city.
This week, let’s talk about another hot issue on the local level. Superintendent of Schools Gary Price said that to consider consolidating East and Fairmont Senior high schools would mean giving up on the idea of growth in the county. What are your thoughts on this oft-discussed issue?
Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.