By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian
The Urban Renewal Authority is exploring adding the redevelopment of the Beltline neighborhood to its plans, as part of the City of Fairmont’s development efforts.
The Beltline neighborhood has already undergone improvements through the Beltline Redevelopment Master Plan, which began several years ago. The plan included improvements to East-West Stadium.
At a meeting of the Fairmont Urban Renewal Authority Tuesday, URA members discussed the possibility of adding the Beltline neighborhood to the Urban Renewal District, which would increase the possibilities for future development in the area, including the opportunities for funding through grants.
Kathy Wyrosdick, director of planning and development for the City of Fairmont, expressed support for this idea.
“The area of the Beltline I honestly think is a huge opportunity for Fairmont,” Wyrosdick said. “There’s so much going on in this community. When you look at it, we have recreation, we have education, and we have a mix of housing opportunities there. It has the ingredients to be a great neighborhood, but for the brownfield sites, the old industrial sites.”
The Beltline neighborhood is defined as the area from 14th Street to 10th Street, and from Virginia Avenue to the river. The area includes East-West Stadium, West Fairmont Middle School and the 12th Street Pool. The area was once a flourishing commercial and residential area, but “brownfield sites” have proved an issue. Brownfield sites are those where hazardous material poses a challenge to development of a property.
“When you look at the opportunities, which is what I see more than the challenges, the opportunities are there in the brownfield sites,” Wyrosdick said. “Looking at redevelopment of brownfield sites, there needs to be a public entity that would be a partner in whatever happens with those sites.”
Gina Fantasia also spoke in support of the idea.
“I think the Beltline belongs in the Urban Renewal District,” Fantasia said.
Wyrosdick said that the Planning Commission is planning on doing a special study plan for the Beltline neighborhood. To allow potential plans to go through quickly, Wyrosdick suggested that the study could include the information necessary for the URA to consider adding the property to their jurisdiction, and should also include information necessary to meet the standards of what would be required under the comprehensive plan legislation.
Fantasia said that redevelopment of this neighborhood would help Fairmont as a whole.
“Arguably, if it’s the Riverfront or the Beltline, or anywhere like that, if we’re able to foster development in those areas, all that does is increase the likelihood of private development moving into downtown,” Fantasia said. “So I think it becomes an exponential effect, if you can begin to make those things happen.”
The matter was discussed, but no motions were passed Tuesday.
The next URA meeting will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 4:30 p.m. in the city manager’s conference room at 200 Jackson St.
Email Colleen S. Good at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.