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.
If something seems too good to be true, then assume that it is
Scam. noun. A confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.
This is a word that Marion Countians have heard a lot about in the past few years. And the problem appears to be one that is getting worse every day.
State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core
It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
So we have to agree with West Virginia Board of Education president Gayle Manchin when she says the state should have done a better job of explaining Common Core standards when they were first introduced.
Those standards, part of a national educational initiative that sets learning goals designed to prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for college and career, will be fully implemented in every West Virginia school district next month.
Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.
United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project
The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.
COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard
I love to talk to readers.
I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.
Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial
NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.
Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives
It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.
Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely
The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.
- Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer
Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
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- If something seems too good to be true, then assume that it is