Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

February 12, 2014

Proposed city hall relocation raises tensions

PRINCETON — Tensions remain high in the city of Princeton over a proposed relocation of the city hall offices.

Mayor Pat Wilson, who mailed a letter to some city residents discussing the issue, is still arguing that city hall should be moved to Mercer Street, as opposed to the old Dean Company site. City council voted last month to begin negotiations to sell the former First Community Bank building on Mercer Street to New River Community and Technical College.

“Personally I think it’s sad that we cannot have differences of opinions, that people have to attack one another if we don’t agree with everything they want,” Wilson said.

The city of Princeton purchased the Mercer Street building in 2013 with plans to move the city’s municipal offices and police department there. But a new proposal calls for moving the city offices, police, fire and other departments to the former Dean Company building, which was donated by Richard Preservati. Preservati has offered to donate the property to the city to serve as a new municipal complex with recreational opportunities. The property includes a building with approximately 10,000 square feet of office and warehouse space with a 34-acre parcel of land.

After hearing over an hour of public comment, Wilson says she still has the same opinion.

“We already have a lease agreement with the college and not only will we have the traffic of the college students, but also adult population on Mercer Street with people doing transactions and business at our offices on Mercer Street,” Wilson said.

At Monday evening’s meeting Wilson said, “It is my dream to have city hall on Mercer Street.

“I can remember when I was younger, we had business all the way from the railroad museum to the courthouse. We had hardware stores, grocery stores, clothing stores, shoe stores, drug stores and several restaurants. Among all of that we also had our city hall, police and fire departments all located on Mercer Street and there were no concerns on how the police and fire departments were going to get out into traffic,” Wilson said.

In the letter, Wilson writes out the concerns of moving city hall to the old Dean Company and why she believes that city hall should be on Mercer Street.

CEO of the Princeton Rescue Squad, Stacy Hicks, was among the many residents to speak in front of the city council Monday evening.

Hicks brought up a few different points during his presentation about the letter and how his name was used in the letter without his permission.

“We have been given an $8 million gift, and with this land it gives the city the opportunity to grow in two places. The mayor stated a lot of things in her letter that are not factual. If you are the mayor of the city you should not print anything that is not true,” Hicks said.

“It’s her dream to have city hall on Mercer Street and no one else’s,” Hicks said.

Every other resident who got up to speak was also in favor of moving the city hall, fire and police departments to the old Dean Company, plus using the 34- acres of land for a sports complex for the city.

Residents stated how a sports complex would be a great addition to the city by giving the children and young people something to do.

— Contact Anne Elgin at aelgin@bdtonline.com

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