Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 1, 2014

Princeton mayor raising more concerns about city hall move

BLUEFIELD — Princeton Mayor Patricia “Pat” Wilson is raising additional questions over the planned move of city hall to the old Dean Company building.

In a letter addressed to city residents dated Feb. 26, Wilson said she still has many concerns that should be addressed before city hall is relocated to the old Dean Company building.

“There are so many unknowns and I am not sure how we can proceed without more studies being done,” Wilson told the Daily Telegraph Friday. “Every issue needs to be addressed and I certainly hope they are before we make any decisions.”

The council voted 4 to 3 last month to begin negotiations with New River Community and Technical College for the purpose of purchasing the former First Community Bank building on Mercer Street. New River is hoping to covert the old bank building into a new college campus.

“Right now everything is still up in the air,” Wilson said. “Work is still being done on the old bank building for occupancy purposes.”

In the letter, Wilson also addresses a proposed pay increase for City Manager Elke Doom.

Wilson said Doom requested to raise her salary to $85,000 while indicating she also had another job offer that she would have to consider.

“On February 20, 2014, I was once again called by our city attorney,” Wilson said in the letter. “ He had received an e-mail from Mrs. Doom and she informed him that she would not be seeking her raise and all city employees would be receiving their 2 percent cost of living allowance. According to her contract, this would also include our city manager, which would raise her salary to $81,151. But at least now all our city employees will get their raise.”

Doom said Friday the council has directed her to continue talks with Richard Preservati regarding his offer to donate the Dean Building and the accompanying acreage to the city of Princeton for a municipal complex and future recreational opportunities.

“The last vote by council was to request an analysis of the existing structure: heating, cooling, electrical systems, water and sewer capacity,” Doom said. “Included in the analysis will be the build-out cost for police, fire and public works. The existing offices are move-in ready for administration. Swope Construction is finalizing the analysis for the city and I would expect it to be on the March or April council agenda for discussion.”

Doom said her job is to work on behalf of seven council members.

“I cannot ignore the direction of the majority and do the bidding of one. This has created a one-sided conflict for the official who has been extremely vocal about her vision for the city hall location,” Doom said. “I speak for many who have expressed disappointment in the virulent content and misinformation presented as fact in the newsletter.”

Wilson also questions in the letter the economic impact of a community college on Mercer Street.

— Contact Anne Elgin at aelgin@bdtonline.com

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