It’s hard to argue with the city of Wheeling’s first round of grants to local organizations through the American Rescue Plan Act — $1.885 million to the Wheeling Park Commission to help with much-needed Wheeling Park improvements; and approximately $1.5 million to the Greater Wheeling Sports and Entertainment Authority for upgrades to the Capitol Theater and WesBanco Arena.
These three sites stimulate the economic development of Wheeling. The planned work on the three sites with ARPA funding will only help to keep them viable in the future.
The Park Commission plans to invest approximately $3.6 million in a new cafe at the White Palace and a new outdoor deck and patio. There will also be improvements to the facade of the White Palace and a new look for the ballroom, as well as other improvements to the swimming pool and ice rink.
“We’re looking to reinvigorate Wheeling Park and make a statement there,” said Bob Peckenpaugh, president and CEO of the Wheeling Park Commission.
At WesBanco Arena, the funding will help cover the costs of new chairs and other improvements to the arena. The Capitol will see a new rigging system and historic plaster repair, among other improvements.
“We’ve been replacing things at the Capitol that date back to 1928-29, and we’ve been replacing chairs and things at WesBanco Arena since when I was in high school a long time ago,” councilman Dave Palmer said.
The key now is to figure out what to do with the remaining bailout funds. The Wheeling City Council still has more than $26 million to allocate.
And we urge board members, just as they did with these initial allocations, to make future applications count with the biggest and boldest projects they can fund.
While these initial grants are necessary and important, and will continue to serve those who visit and live here, council should remember that this funding represents a real opportunity to remake Wheeling.