Government is limited in what it can do to promote growth within a town or city.
When it comes down to housing, restaurants, businesses and entertainment venues, a city or a county can encourage growth but cannot demand it. It cannot build a popular chain restaurant that makes the city a destination. Leaders cannot build riverfront condos on spec in hopes of rental income. The government cannot construct a major amusement park or convention center.
They can build roads, provide water and sewer hook-ups, and develop laws and ordinances that encourage businesses and entrepreneurs to invest in the area. They can promote the area at trade shows and conferences, marketing how this particular area is prime for development or redevelopment.
You ask yourself the question, “What’s so great about Fairmont? What’s so great about Marion County?”
The answers are abundant. We have a lot of things to be thankful for — low crime rates, a strong school system, superior higher education, friendly communities, a skilled and willing workforce, scenic beauty, culture. Just about anyone you ask could give you a different answer.
But ask an outsider — someone not from West Virginia — that same question. What would they see if they were looking at data on a piece of paper? What if they hadn’t shopped in a local store, taken a walk down a rail trail, attended a local festival, enjoyed a Mountaineer football game, fished in the Tygart River? Would they feel the same emotional tie to this piece of land 56,000 people strong love?
Of course not. Businesses have to make decisions on where to locate or branch out based on a number of criteria. The geography. The climate. The clientele. The infrastructure. The housing. The quality of life.
We believe that last piece is an area that has needed improvement in Marion County. Yes, we have lots of natural beauty, rolling hills, flowing waters of three rivers. But access to those natural amenities is limited.
And we believe that a plan proposed by the Marion County Commission to develop the riverfront of the Monongahela River on Fairmont’s East Side is certainly something that needs to be supported. At a combined work session with the City of Fairmont last week, the commission unveiled a vision to redevelop the riverfront property near Palatine Park.
The hitch is that a portion of the area targeted for development is owned by the City of Fairmont, though the county purchased a vast majority of the land surrounding and including portions of Palatine Park from CSX Transportation Inc. for the potential for economic and recreational development near the riverfront area.
The development plan includes clearing out space for walking trails and adding restrooms, fishing docks, boat docks and boat ramps to the portion of land that extends from the Marion County Election Center to the Palatine Park amphitheater.
In order to extend the development beyond the amphitheater and toward the High Level Bridge, the county needs cooperation from the city. If the city agrees to trade the county for the property, the conceptual plan calls for ideas such as additional pavilions, spaces for restaurants with outdoor eating, an overlook, opportunities for kayak and paddle boat rentals, more boat ramps and docks, a playground and more.
The county has placed the 100 block of Adams Street on the table and is willing to trade the plot for the section of Palatine Park the city owns. There’s a great deal of value in that block of Adams Street where the old State Office Complex once stood. It is a prime piece of green space downtown that could be used to make the city more appealing, be used for events and developed into a thriving social center. It is a smaller, more manageable site to develop, which fits along with the city’s limited budget for such development.
The county has the resources and a funding stream for the development of the riverfront, and quite frankly, it has a track record of developing and maintaining parks.
We’ve looked to the riverfront for economic development for more than a decade now. While there have been grand plans, there hasn’t been movement. Blame the economy. Blame limited funding sources. Blame businesses that proceed with extreme caution. But accept that plans have never materialized into moving dirt and bricks and mortar.
This initial investment the county is willing to make and is able to afford, we believe, will bring private investment to the riverfront, too.
If the plan moves forward, the city will have a developed riverfront in the end. The county investment should jump start private investment, which will continue to feed growth and expansion, all within the city limits of Fairmont.
We know the phrase “win-win situation” gets thrown around a lot, but we can’t think of a better way to describe this trade the county has offered. We certainly hope city officials will be receptive to the deal.
Government is limited in what it can do to promote growth within a town or city.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
Strong Fairmont General Hospital badly needed to serve our region
Mere minutes often matter when it comes to emergency health care.
That’s why we need a strong Fairmont General Hospital.
When patients need the services of health-care professionals, having family and friends close at hand is often essential, and their presence may even lead to a better outcome.
COLUMN: Fairmont General Hospital vital part of community
There’s nothing better than holding a newborn baby. It gives you a little feeling that not only is everything right in the world, but this perfect little human represents hope of a future where things will be better than they are today.
I had that blessed opportunity to hold that hopeful future in my arms last week when I visited my dear friend Jen and her newborn son Tristan at Fairmont General Hospital.
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- Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated