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.
‘Pothole blitz’ badly needed service coming in West Virginia
Hopefully, the heavy snow and extremely cold weather of January, February and early March are in the past.
Remnants of the harsh winter, though, remain. They’re faced each day by the state’s drivers.
Potholes have West Virginia’s roads in their worst condition in years, and the damaging freeze-thaw cycle is not over.
‘The issues are complicated’ with e-cigarettes
E-cigarettes have been around for about seven years.
But you’d be shocked at how long the idea for the the tobacco-less product has been around.
“A primitive, battery-operated ‘smokeless non-tobacco cigarette’ was patented as early as 1963 and described in Popular Mechanics in 1965,” Megan McArdle wrote for Business Week last monty.
Coal industry can’t afford to give this administration and EPA more ammunition
Coal already has a bad name in Washington, D.C.
The whole industry got another black eye this week when Alpha Natural Resources Inc., one of the country’s largest coal producers, agreed to pay a $27.5 million fine and invest $200 million to reduce illegal water pollution in five states, including West Virginia.
Being observant, reporting suspicions can make difference for hurting children
If a child is hurting, we wouldn’t hesitate to help.
Or would we?
In a five-year span, 22,830 children were victims of some type of neglect or abuse in West Virginia. That’s an overwhelming number to think about.
Gee makes major impact and earns another term as WVU president
Let’s imagine that a graduate from West Virginia University in the early 1980s, when E. Gordon Gee was president, came back to get an extra degree now and couldn’t believe that E. Gordon Gee is “still” the president of WVU.
Effort to encourage purchase of goods produced in U.S. deserves support
The concept of encouraging the purchase of American-made products is certainly not new.
On the federal level, the Buy American Act was passed in 1933 by Congress and signed by President Herbert Hoover. It required the United States government to prefer U.S.-made products in its purchases.
‘Stop Meth, Not Meds’ backed by readers
In West Virginia, there is something referred to as “stop-sale technology” that prevents a person from going to more than one pharmacy to purchase over-the-counter medication that contains the active ingredient pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant.
It’s not an issue of stuffy noses that lawmakers were worried about when they created the system.
Even small steps play part in critical mission to reduce childhood obesity
Just two years ago, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese, meaning they had excess body weight based on their height.
It’s a troubling statistic, and one that health officials have worked diligently to reverse.
Cutting-edge heart procedure at Mon General is saving lives
“I used to think I wouldn’t live to be 50. Well, I made it to 50 and then some,” Pearl Walls said.
Walls is likely alive today and able to tell her story to the Times West Virginian because of a cutting-edge procedure performed at Monongalia General Hospital — a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), which was only approved for use by the FDA in 2011.
Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ many works, magic words
You know his words.
You know them well.
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