MANNINGTON — For months, the City of Mannington and the WVU Extension Service have been holding meetings about how to renew the heart of the city and another meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.
The public is invited to participate in a what being called a community conversation from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 25 and become part of the team that will be working to create a plan for the future of the downtown.
Laura Prinzo, a West Virginia University Extension specialist in community and economic development, said the meeting is a cooperative effort between Extension and the City of Mannington.
“We want to set clear goals and objectives for what we want to accomplish with downtown revitalization,” Prinzo said.
Prinzo said people can bring their ideas for what the downtown needs the most, and “any creative ideas they have for what might make downtown better.”
According to Prinzo, a design, or plan of action, will grow out of the meeting.
What that plan will involve, she said, depends on what comes out of the discussion.
“We are hoping to work with other faculty members at WVU to help with further design and planning, and where we go with that will depend, really, on what the community comes up with,” she said. Prinzo said the goals of the downtown revitalization are to provide increased traffic for existing business and attracting new businesses and regional tourism to the area.
She said the downtown revitalization effort began as a project with WVU Extension and the Public Administration Program at WVU.
Prinzo and students in the program did a community assessment of Mannington and held different community meetings to talk about the quality of life. In addition, students and other gathered information about opportunities available in the area.
She said Mannington was chosen because they were targeting areas with a central downtown area and strong social connections.
“I know from living in Marion County for so many years that Mannington has so many groups and organizations that are always working on projects for residents and for youth, so we knew that there would be a network of individuals there who would be passionate about helping with projects to improve identified areas,” she said.
Incorporating art into the downtown is under consideration.
“Art downtown attracts regional tourism and beautifies the area, which would, in turn, potentially attract businesses,” Prinzo said.
She said murals have been discussed as a possibility.
“We’ve talked about murals, but I think that’s why we want the community to come, to talk about their ideas, so that they can sort of contribute to creating the plan and the image that we’re working through,” she said.
Prinzo noted that other options being considered are capitalizing on streams and lakes in the area and making use of a vacant lot on Water Street as a venue for events.