Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

July 11, 2012

Coming down: Last chance for parking garage input

City residents who may have concerns or questions about the looming demolition of the Scott Street Parking Garage in downtown Bluefield are urged to attend a public forum today at city hall.

The meeting gets underway today at 2:30 p.m. in the Bluefield Board of Director’s meeting room. Anyone who could potentially be impacted by this demolition project, as well as those who are seeking additional information or may have concerns, should attend today’s forum.

The demolition of the Scott Street Parking Garage is scheduled to begin July 23. It will be the second parking garage to be demolished in Bluefield this summer. The old Princeton Avenue Parking Garage was demolished last month.

A contract for the demolition of the Scott Street Parking Garage has been signed with Swope Construction Company, according to Interim City Manager and City Attorney Brian Cochran. The $2.4 million demolition project includes the construction of a retaining wall with parking spaces.

Cochran said the city board decided to demolish the parking garage because the cost of repairing it far outweighed the cost of demolition. Cochran said the parking garage has also become a public safety hazard.

“When the garage was open, we had numerous incidents where concrete from the ceiling fell on vehicles,” he said. “We had to close it because of that. Thankfully, no one was injured. It is too dangerous to have anyone in there and it is now too cost prohibitive to repair the building. All of the testing that has been done has determined that we really have absolutely no choice but to do this. We feel it is better to do it now since it will never be any cheaper to get it done. We are fortunate that we are financially capable of getting this project done now. We are in the position that this has to be done. We don’t want our kids to have to pay twice as much for this later on.”

The $2.4 million price tag on the project includes not just the demolition, but also the construction of the retaining wall and new parking area. The funds for the project will come from the proceeds received from the sale of Bluefield Regional Medical Center.

While $2.4 million is a lot of money to spend on the demolition of another parking garage, it sounds like the city may not have a choice regarding the Scott Street Parking Garage. Public safety, after all, must take precedence.

However, those citizens who have questions, or concerns regarding the demolition project and the expenditure of $2.4 million in hospital funds, should certainly attend today’s informational forum.

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