Weirton Council could use ARPA funds on parks, police vehicles
WEIRTON — Weirton Council met in work session Thursday night, discussing some potential uses for the city’s allotted funding under the federal American Rescue Plan Act, with a particular focus on investments into the city’s parks and the purchase of additional vehicles for the Weirton Police Department.
“I wanted to get a few topics on the table,” City Manager Mike Adams noted in opening discussion for the public workshop held in the Weirton Municipal Building.
Weirton was awarded approximately $10.5 million through the ARPA program, with council already approving $4 million to go toward the proposed improvements at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
Under the proposals discussed Thursday, council could set aside $1.5 million from its ARPA funds toward various projects for the Weirton Board of Parks and Recreation.
Projects, if the funding is approved, would include the demolition of the Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool at Marland Heights Park, paving of the Panhandle Recreational Trail and possible work at Starvaggi Memorial Park, in particular the replacement and improvement of the playground.
Parks Director Coty Shingle also noted approximately $200,000 is needed to complete a repair project to the south wall of the Millsop Community Center.
Mary-Hannah Finton and Tammy Aftanas, of the Starvaggi Park Civic Association, noted they already had received a $64,000 grant from the JC Williams Foundation to go toward the playground, but anticipated it could cost upwards of $200,000 to complete. The grant also must be expended in 10 months, they said.
A lengthy discussion was held on possible work on Starvaggi Memorial Pool, although no definitive direction was reached.
Ward 7 Councilman Terry Weigel said there are numerous projects which could be undertaken at Starvaggi Park, in addition to the pool.
“When we talk about Starvaggi, we really need to talk about the entire park,” he said, noting while the pool opened in the late 1960s, many of the park’s shelters are between 40 and 50 years old.
Ward 2 Councilman Chris Jonczak suggested the idea of a multi-stage improvement project with Starvaggi Park.
“There are so many things that want to be done; that need to be done,” he said.
Adams, though, suggested tackling some recreation projects now, noting recreation often is cited as a priority for those looking to locate businesses in a community.
“We have the money to kind of do what we need to do,” Adams said.
Ward 6 Councilman Enzo Fracasso agreed the city needs to invest in its recreation, citing some of the parks he has seen during his travels, as well as discussions with officials from other West Virginia municipalities.
Council also discussed the potential purchase of up to 15 new vehicles for the police department, with up to $1 million of ARP funds set aside.
The purchase, if approved, would allow for the launch of a “take home” program for the department, allowing patrol officers to take a cruiser home with them instead of one vehicle being shared by multiple officers.
“It’s huge when it comes to recruiting,” Police Chief Charlie Kush said, noting the department is in the process of hiring and anticipates two retirements in the coming months.
Kush also said the additional vehicles would help to cut down on the wear and tear of the department’s fleet.
“Right now, our cars are lasting two to three years,” he said.
Ward 1 Councilman Tim Connell noted a draft resolution is being crafted. It would just need specific numbers plugged in. Adams noted 15 cars, to include 4 vehicles for the officers in charge and 11 for patrol officers, currently is expected to cost $928,950.
The cost would include the purchase and full outfitting of each vehicle.
In addition to those two topics, Finance Director Diana Smoljanovich reminded council of previous discussions to use some of the ARP funds toward repairs and renovations of the Weirton Municipal Building. A study on possible projects for the building currently is under way.