Despite the many positive developments in the community, the City of Parkersburg is continually seeking ways to grow its appeal and economy by building new opportunities for residents, businesses and anyone looking to have fun. Currently, new residential housing construction is planned throughout the city, with additional renovations occurring as industrial activity in the region increases. New residents will be surprised how much house they get for their money, with existing single-family houses valued at less than half the national average, and newer units priced aggressively. Business owners will also find untapped potential with premier workforce and an ever-increasing demand for new commercial services, as well as many local and state organizations that are committed to helping new and existing businesses grow. Residents and business owners alike can take advantage of the exceptional quality of life that Parkersburg provides – with a growing list of recreational and leisure activities within the City and nearby communities. Currently, many projects are underway that prove that the City of Parkersburg is achieving the growth goals established by the City’s leadership.
Among the major projects under development by the City and surrounding areas are:
Parkersburg – Ohio Riverfront Trail
When built out, this multi-use trail will enable area residents to travel along the Ohio from Point Park in downtown Parkersburg to the City’s northern corporation limits. The first phase of construction (0.6 miles) was complete when Point Park reopened in the fall of 2011. The second and longest section (2.5 miles) of trail is in the planning phase. Improvements slated for the trail include resting station and a new pedestrian bridge over the pond run outfall, near the floodwall gate at 12th street. This $500,000 project is being funded through the WV Division of Highways – Transportation Enhancement grant program. PORT is one of several trails being developed or under construction in the City of Parkersburg. The City is committed to providing area residents with safe, alternative modes of transportation, as well as recreational amenities.
Sports and Entertainment Complex
Although no formal plans have been announced, the City is working with private developers to identify and construct a multi-million dollar sports and entertainment complex in community. When not in use by a new minor league baseball team, the facility will also serve as a venue for various events throughout the year. Potential events include women’s fast pitch, fairs, festivals, music concerts as well as other sporting events. Two feasibility studies, completed by the City and its partners, suggest that there is broad support for a sports and entertainment complex in the region.
Crosstown Bike Way – South Parkersburg Segment
The Crosstown Connector is the City of Parkersburg’s north-south bicycle trail. This trail starts at Emerson Elementary Street going through neighborhoods in North Parkersburg to Fairview Avenue, flowing to the City Park, and then moving south until coming to the intersection of the Little Kanawha Connector at the base of the East Street Bridge. The Crosstown Connector is planned to continue to South Parkersburg crossing the bridge into the Tavennersville neighborhoods, and going through the Evergreen South Cemetery and connecting to Parkersburg South High School, before ending at the southern trailhead located in Southwood Park. Once completed, this trail will link to the nearly completed Little Kanawha Connector Trail, with planned connections to the North Bend Trail, and larger Industrial Heartlands Trail, providing bicycle access to the Midwest, and eastern United States. This project will be completed in two phases, the first phase being the Cemetery access road upgrades, expected to cost $13,560.00. The second phase is the Parkersburg South High School access upgrades, expected to cost $24,000.00, for a combined total of $37,560.00. Prospective funding sources for this project include Rails to Trails: Doppelt Trail Development Funds, West Virginia Division of Forestry Demonstration Grants, City and other alternative transportation grant funds.
Fort Neal Park Enhancement Project
Fort Neal Park, located along the southern banks of the Little Kanawha River, is receiving a lot of attention. This park is currently home to the city’s 10,000 sq. ft. skate park, a premier regional destination for skate enthusiast. Other outdoor enhancements include a quarter mile walking trail, and active fishing pond and restroom facilities. Planned upgrades for the park include a new Dog Park, paved parking, additional sidewalk connections, and overhead lighting. These improvements, totaling $30,000 are made possible by the City and Land and Water Conservation Grant from the State of West Virginia.
Ethane Cracker Plant
Located in Washington WV, minutes from Parkersburg City limits, a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker plant (a plastics manufacturing facility) is currently planned for development. Project ASCENT, or Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise, is a project by Brazilian conglomerate Oberatch and US counterpart Braskam. This industrial facility is planned to employ thousands during construction, and hundreds once complete, with additional industry and employment opportunities once operations are fully underway. The building of this facility will also positively impact all major categories of business services, including retail stores and centers, as well as the hospitality industry. Recent changes in commodity (oil) prices has lead to considering building a facility that could process oil and natural gas.
Safer Routes to School
The City has been awarded two grants ($224,000) from the West Virginia Division of Highways to construct new sidewalks around Fairplains and Franklin Elementary School. After months of planning and design, the City’s sidewalk projects have cleared the environmental review processes. The City should receive a notice to proceed with construction in the coming months. Work is slated to begin in the spring of 2016. To see the planned improvements, please click on the links below.
Southwood Park Enhancement Project
New playground equipment is coming to Southwood Park thanks to a Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant from the National Park Service. A new playhouse, climbing wall and fitness course has been purchased and will be installed before the Thanksgiving holiday. Additional lights will be installed around the playground and in the gazebo next to the restrooms. A site plan and pictures of the new equipment are below. Total cost: $70,000.
Friendship Park Enhancement Project
Have you ever heard of a pocket park – a small green space typically used residents in the immediate vicinity? Friendship Park on 13th Street in a great example here in Parkersburg and will be getting makeover in the spring of 2016. In addition to installing new LED light fixtures and landscaping, a new fence will be erected. The fence will be made of metal and include public art that is appropriate for children. This project is being paid for with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. Total cost: $68,000.
Avery Street Streetscape Enhancement Project
Avery Street is planned for pedestrian upgrades starting at 7th and Avery Street, all the way to 13th and Avery Street. Segments of deteriorated sidewalk will be replaced and upgraded to ADA compliance as necessary. Additional upgrades include better street lighting and a 10th Street intersection upgrade to enhance the Avery Street entrance to the Quincy Hill Steps. Residents will be have safer connections to amenities on Avery Street, and also provide a better pedestrian environment to the Downtown. This project is projected to cost $300,000, with funding provided by the West Virginia Transportation Enhancement Grant Program, a federal-aid program of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. The program provides annual funding, through the Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) legislation, to West Virginia communities for non-traditional transportation projects such as improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists through the construction of sidewalks and trails, acquisition of scenic or historic sites, preserving historic resources and stimulating tourism development.
New Development Incentives
In recent years the City of Parkersburg has enacted several incentives programs with the goal being to encourage private investment in the community. The Administration is in the process of evaluating these programs to ensure they create a positive business climate and strengthen Parkersburg’s competitive advantages. As such, new proposals and modifications may be forthcoming. A majority of all businesses in the City and State of West Virginia are classified as small businesses (< 499 employees). It’s imperative we enable our small businesses to compete at the local, state and national level. The City is fortunate to have many partners in this effort, including the Area Roundtable, Mid-Ohio Valley Chamber of Commerce, Downtown PKB and others.