PARKERSBURG - Asbestos removal at the former Wood County Holding Center is scheduled to begin Oct. 11 with the building to be demolished.
Wood County commissioners on Thursday reviewed a proposed plan for land use after the building is razed. The plan was submitted by Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell and includes 17,000 square feet to be set aside as an "Urban Dog Park."
The county has discussed plans to install a parking lot on the Second Street property. Holding center personnel as well as the Home Confinement Program, which was also housed in that facility, were relocated to the Wood County Justice Center in January 2012. The building has been sitting vacant ever since. The center is a former jail. It's located next to the county maintenance building, which sits at the corner of Avery and Second streets and formerly served as the law enforcement building. The sheriff's department was also moved to the justice center.
Photo by Pamela Brust
Wood County commissioners — Wayne Dunn, Steve Gainer and Blair Couch — reviewed a proposed plan from the city of Parkersburg for use of the land where the holding center is located. The former holding center facility is being razed and the county plans to install a parking lot on the land. The city’s proposal includes a 17,000-square-foot “Urban Dog Park.”
"We need to decide whether we want to follow through on what the mayor is proposing. As presented, he's proposing 72 hourly parking spaces, with a green space in-between and a dog park measuring 17,000 square feet. That seems like a pretty big dog park," commission President Wayne Dunn said. "We appreciate the mayor's input. I think if we had a smaller dog park, we could have a larger lot, for one thing."
"The idea is being proposed by the mayor to attract more people into downtown," Dunn said. "I like a lot of the mayor's ideas, but with the budget getting tighter every year, being able to raise revenue from this parking lot seems to be an opportunity we don't have open to us very often, and that's appealing to me."
"I understand he thinks having the dog park would attract more people to downtown, and he says there are builders interested in building more downtown and he feels the dog park will help attract people," Dunn said.
Commissioner Steve Gainer said he brought up the demolition project at the Downtown Task Force meeting.
"The city has agreed to help us construct the parking lot, like they did with the other parking lot," he said.
County officials discussed who might use the park, who would maintain it, what liabilities there might be involved with a dog park, and possible options for locating the dog park at another site.
In his letter, the mayor proposed a joint project with the county.
"The city has been working toward an end game of revitalizing downtown Parkersburg through economic development and creating quality of life projects in increase downtown living. Downtown living has become popular nationwide. There are now several people living in our business district and a couple of developers interested in creating more affordable living space," the mayor's letter notes.
The mayor said the property where the holding center is located "would be a perfect place to create 72 hourly parking spaces with an Urban Dog Park. The majority of communities on the move have long ago established dog parks for city dwellers and we have received many requests from people all over the area to create such a park. Additionally, it is my intention to remove the diagonal meter parking from Second Street to accommodate the Little Kanawha Connector that was planned over 15 years ago," Newell said in his letter.
"Therefore, a metered lot could replace those removed spaces and would not compete with the seven private entities that provide monthly parking to downtown employees. As before, we could enter into an agreement to help build and maintain the lot and enforce parking. The revenue arrangement could be geared so the city receives revenue for management and the county receives revenue to recover the costs of establishing the park. A solar powered parking kiosk, such as the one we are placing at Seventh and Juliana streets would eliminate the need for an attendant," the mayor's letter states. No cost estimates for the dog park were included in the proposal.
On days when jurors are called to report, Newell suggested the lot be reserved for jury parking only.
The proposed map shows a green space/landscaping and walkway between the parking spaces. The dog park shows a fence all the way around it, a fountain and a number of benches along the perimeter of the park. The map was provided by the Department of Public Works, Engineering Devision for the city of Parkersburg.
"Since you anticipate the building coming down in the next 30 days, it's going to look a lot different when the property is vacant, so I would suggest you table this discussion until that time," Prosecutor Jason Wharton said.
The commissioners agreed to table the discussion.
County administrator Marty Seufer said once the asbestos removal process begins, no one will be allowed in the building so sheriff's department officials plan to remove anything left inside prior to that. A generator will be removed by Wood County Emergency Management Services and transported to the Waverly Volunteer Fire Department.
A flag pole on the property, which is encased in concrete, will remain and plans call for the parking lot to be constructed around the pole.