Planned Gateway Park Moves Forward on Wheeling Island | News, Sports, Jobs

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Photo by Eric Ayres This property located on the south side of the suspension bridge on Wheeling Island is being developed as part of the city’s Gateway Park project. After years of planning, the park project, celebrating the history of the iconic Wheeling Suspension Bridge, is finally moving forward.

WHEELING – West Virginia’s plan to rehabilitate the historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge isn’t the only project moving forward in connection with the Ohio River landmark.

A major project that was in the planning stages for a site in the shadow of the suspension bridge – the City of Wheeling’s Gateway Park project on the banks of the Wheeling Island River – recently moved forward after being on hold for about two years. and is expected to enter its initial phase of construction.

The town of Wheeling this month approved an ordinance allowing City Manager Robert Herron to spend $ 409,950 with James White Construction Co. of Weirton on Phase 1 of the Wheeling Island and Gateway project. The funds used for this first phase of the work will come from several sources, including $ 260,000 from the Town’s RCIP (Restricted Capital Improvement Program) fund and $ 150,000 from the Town’s Project Fund.

Overall, the Gateway Park project consists of six phases of construction on a site adjacent to the Wheeling Island ramp of the suspension bridge. The cost of the six phases of the project was initially estimated at around $ 1.6 million, with grants and funds already in place for some phases of the works.

“We are able to move forward with the park thanks to the generous donation of the Fitzsimmons family,” said Wheeling Deputy Mayor Chad Thalman. “Not only will this park benefit Wheeling Island, it will be clearly visible from Heritage Port and enhance our waterfront.”

The Fitzsimmons Family Foundation had provided an initial amount of $ 150,000 to initiate two of the six phases of construction. Funds from the US Environmental Protection Agency‘s Brownfields grant program – including a $ 10,000 site assessment grant – are also being used to move the project forward. Representatives from the EPA visited the site two and a half years ago, but not much had been done to move this project forward until this month – which was at about the same time. when the state of West Virginia announced its intention to rehabilitate the Suspension Bridge, closed to vehicular traffic since 2019.

But the Gateway Park project is back in the spotlight, city leaders said this week.

“There were two things that held it back a bit – one being COVID and the other being the suspension bridge,” Herron said. “We thought that (the construction crews) might have wanted to use it as a drop-off area (for equipment). But they don’t want to use this place as a rest area.

Wheeling City Council’s move to move forward with Phase 1 of the Gateway Park project coincided with Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s announcement late last month that a $ 17.9 million contract was awarded to Advantage Steel & Construction LLC of Butler County, Pennsylvania. , for the long-awaited rehabilitation of the historic 1849 bridge.

The initial phases of the Gateway Park project are designed to begin to develop the area of ​​the park around the base of the suspension bridge on the Wheeling Island side.

“Phase 1 is the part of the streetscape on Front Street,” Herron explained. “Phase 2 will include the grassy area and a footbridge to the river. We only funded phase 1. But we are going to participate with a Brownfields grant – because there is a small reservoir that needs to be removed at the site – as part of phase 3. “

According to the Wheeling Gateway Park Master Plan, the overall project will include the development of a historic promenade area, a terraced plaza with an aesthetic shade structure, a scenic plaza with views of the river and downtown Wheeling, landscaping of green spaces, street rehabilitation, bank stabilization, river access, trails and other outdoor recreational activities.

A detailed copy of the Wheeling Gateway Park Master Plan can be found on the city’s website at www.wheelingwv.gov.

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