West Virginia's economic development committee Thursday stopped the issuance of $225 million in state grants, including a Parkersburg project it approved just Wednesday. Under a law which took effect in July, the bonds are to be repaid with $19 million a year in video lottery revenue, but a pending lawsuit on behalf of two anti-gambling groups’ questions whether video lottery funds can be constitutionally used for any state purpose, including bond repayment.
Parkersburg Mayor Jimmy Colombo isn't concerned, saying the project will happen as long as the city is on the development authority's list for funding.
While the mayor is optimistic, some people are looking forward to the park. The Thompson’s, who are from northeast Ohio, have visited this area before, and one of their favorite stops is Point Park. And they believe the Ohio River area isn't being used to its full potential.
“I don't see much in the way of water sports. If they could put something like that up, I'm sure it could draw people,” Tom Thompson says.
Water sports aren't part of a plan for a riverfront park, but Mayor Jimmy Colombo says that's a possibility for the future. Right now, the plans do include landings for excursion boats, a picnic area, and handicapped accessibility.
“Just as people use the parks, I think it will enhance the good feeling you have living where you live. This will be a great addition to that,” says Mayor Jimmy Columbo.
While thousands were lined up along the river for the recent Parkersburg Homecoming Festival, people come here all the time. In fact, it can be difficult finding a parking space.
“When I bring my wife down for lunch, we like to see the traffic on the river, and it does get quite congested,” Dave Hungate says.
“We've been coming down here for years. We love to see the ducks and the geese and the people. It's just a fun place,” adds Bob McVay.
The city has kept busy while waiting for funding. An environmental study is in progress, and Colombo says Congressman Alan Mollohan is being contacted to seek matching funds for the state money.