WHEELING — City of Wheeling leaders are expected to continue discussing proposed uses of the city’s federal pandemic relief funds through the American Rescue Plan Act tonight.
The city received a total of about $29.5 million in ARPA funds, and through late April, city officials had accepted public proposals for impactful ways to use this unique windfall of money. designed to provide post-COVID economic relief to the community.
Wheeling City Council members are scheduled to hold a regular meeting tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the City-County Building, and prior to the regular meeting, members of the council’s finance committee are scheduled to meet at 5:15 p.m. to discuss the financial statements. of the city as well as some proposals for ARPA funds.
On the finance committee agenda are discussions of ARPA fund proposals from the Wheeling Park Commission in the amount of $1,885,110, as well as ARPA fund proposals from WesBanco Arena in the amount of $695. $400 and from the Capitol Theater in the amount of $365,900.
Several local entities and organizations had submitted proposals to the city, and council members held a preliminary working session in March with some of the local agencies that had submitted proposals. Bob Peckenpaugh, chairman and CEO of the Wheeling Park Commission, was among those who showed up earlier this spring to address the council in the first of what are expected to be several public working sessions on the fund. ARPA.
Peckenpaugh said Oglebay Resort — a financial engine when it comes to the economic results of Wheeling Park and Oglebay Park — suffered a $6.5 million hit due to lost revenue as a result of the pandemic of COVID-19.
“I think the economic impact of an operation like Oglebay is also important in this discussion,” Peckenpaugh said during the March session, noting that resort guests spend money in the city and that the resort also generates bed tax revenue for the city. . “Any growth that we have in the hospitality sector of the business comes back to the community in this way.”
There are strict guidelines established by the US Treasury Department outlining how ARPA funds can be spent. According to these guidelines, the funding must be used to cover the expenses of community investments such as infrastructure projects, to provide a bonus for essential workers, to respond to large-scale public health and negative economic impacts of the pandemic. and to replace lost public sector revenue.
City leaders agreed that projects using ARPA funds should have a positive impact on many people, as opposed to projects that would only benefit a handful of people in the community. Supporting organizations that provide a catalyst for tourism dollars was seen by many as one of the “economic multipliers” where ARP funds could be invested, city leaders noted. Oglebay, WesBanco Arena and the Capitol Theater are among the pandemic-affected sites that are top tourist destinations in Wheeling.
Improvements proposed by the Wheeling Park Commission involve renovations to some of Wheeling Park’s most used facilities, including improvements to the swimming pool, ice rink and White Palace. These include the installation of a “sprayground” at the pool complex, replacement of the roof and other infrastructure works at the ice rink, addition of an indoor/outdoor cafe at the White Palace, renovations to the White Palace Ballroom and improvements to the southwest orientation. first floor entrance.
On the list of proposed capital improvements to WesBanco Arena are the purchase of 2,100 chairs and carts, risers and decking, new pipes and curtains, fire alarm upgrades, a security camera, a rigger fall prevention system, a new radio communication system, a complete key fob system, maintenance equipment and a point of sale and food and beverage inventory system.
The list of proposed improvements to the Capitol Theater include balcony railings; microphones, cables and motors; paving of the walkway to the stage; plumbing and boiler updates; improvements to old toilets; stage lighting upgrades; ballroom renovations; locker room renovations; ticket office and lobby upgrades; food and beverage point of sale system; ballroom refrigerators; replacement of the laser projector and repair of the historical plaster.
Members of the council’s utilities committee met last week to discuss proposals for ARPA funding from the city’s water pollution control division, which has millions of dollars worth of water projects. infrastructure on its to-do list. Sewage system upgrades are among the projects eligible for federal relief funding, and a number of improvement projects that are currently unfunded would impact many city residents.
In other actions on tonight’s agenda, the city is scheduled to hear resolutions and hold public hearings on the proposed amalgamation of the Tax Increase Funding Districts in Downtown and Downtown Wheeling, as well as the inclusion of the new Wheeling-Pitt Historic Lofts in the TIF District. A public hearing and resolution are also scheduled on a proposed lease of space in the Central Market for Pierogis Sake.