Wood County Commission hears plans for Point Park Marketplace | News, Sports, Jobs

CVB President and CEO Mark Lewis spoke to the Wood County Commission on Thursday about continuing plans to convert the old Point Park Marketplace building into a new visitor center. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

PARKERSBURG – The Greater Parkersburg-Wood County Convention and Visitors Bureau is moving forward with plans to convert the old Point Park Marketplace building into a new visitor center/offices.

CVB President and CEO Mark Lewis spoke to the Wood County Commission on Thursday about continuing plans for the property.

Parkersburg City Council recently voted to approve the sale of the property, at 113 Ann St., for $260,000. The property sits between the Blennerhassett Museum and the Point Park docks where visitors board paddle steamers to travel to Blennerhassett Island, one of the area’s most visited tourist attractions.

“It makes so much sense for us to be there on the way to and from our main tourist attraction,” said Lewis.

The island welcomes thousands of visitors every year.

“We can use this location to leverage and drive tourism spending,” said Lewis. “People who come to the center, we can direct them to some of the things that they may have missed or may not have heard of.”

The CVB would be able to direct people to the Oil and Gas Museum, Henderson Hall and other local attractions, restaurants, shops, hotels and more either during their current trip, overnight stay, or to convince them to come back later. Dated.

Lewis said they hope to complete the purchase this month.

“We are still trying to find the way forward in terms of renovations,” he said.

Talking to the construction and engineering folks, there are a number of supply chain issues and labor issues at the moment. Lewis’ early estimates that renovations would be carried out and to have them in the building by May 1, when the paddle steamer begins to run to the island, are no longer feasible.

“We are looking to get in there, on a temporary basis, this summer,” he said. Plans are to have a temporary visitor center with the major renovations expected to be done in the fall. They are interested in their 7th Street building by potential buyers. Lewis expects them to maintain a presence there until they move into the renovated building.

He wants the renovations to be done by local companies.

The center will include parking for tourist buses behind the building. It will also encourage the participants of these tours and their leaders to enter the building and talk about other tourist ideas.

Commission Chairman Blair Couch said the commission was looking at options to help secure funding for the CVB to carry out the renovations.

“We want to be in solidarity with this” he said.

Lewis said he was working on requests for other funding to help with the renovations. Additionally, he wants to put another tent cover over a section at the back of the building, like the one in Bicentennial Park, to host events.

They also want to have space for a bike/kayak rental business. Lewis is considering federal dollars to be able to set up proper access for kayaks.

“I’m optimistic about it” said Lewis. “There’s huge potential in the building and that underutilized rear space.”

Lewis is looking to crunch the numbers for the money CVB has lost over the past year due to the ongoing pandemic. He would appreciate any further help that could be provided.

In other cases:

Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes submitted revised maps of the county’s electoral districts due to changes in the census and local population. Changes have been made to have the correct number of residents in each.

Rhodes said they checked the addresses of candidates for offices and executive committees to make sure they are listed in the correct districts. Letters will also be sent to electors who are in a new constituency.

The commission unanimously approved the maps.

Couch asked if political considerations were factored into any of the adjustments, possibly moving a potential candidate from one district to another. Rhodes said they weren’t because they were based on population only.

“I used census block numbers to follow the lines of the delegated districts and the municipal lines to try to balance everything”, Rhodes said. “Once that was done, we checked whether it would affect a sitting elected official.”

Couch said the commission believed the changes were “honest and fair”.

The commission will be on recess on Monday due to the Martin Luther King Jr. vacation. Next Thursday, the commission will resume meetings in the Judge Black Annex meeting room as the number of local COVID cases has increased. Officials wanted to be able to spread out more and socially distance themselves.

Brett Dunlap can be reached at [email protected]

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