On Thursday evening, Weirton Council and the Weirton Park Board met in a public workshop to air some of their issues.
The park board members have a series of improvement projects they would like to tackle, but not enough money to move forward on most of them. They claim the council failed to respond to some of their earlier requests for discussion. Council members said they were unaware of many of these requests. This is a completely different problem, but which feeds these reflections.
As part of a developing habit, I took a photo and posted it to a few of my work-related social media accounts along with a brief explanation of the meeting. The full article would be published online and printed the following day.
I woke up Friday morning with some responses to my photo post.
One was from a former council member who mentioned Weirton’s business and professional tax revenue as a possible source of funds for hobby projects. The individual mentioned that when the B&O structure was changed several years ago, under a previous administration, one of the hopes of some members at the time was to invest in recreation, as it was a priority residents with whom they spoke.
The other comment was from a resident who was trying to accuse me of helping cover things up for the city and claiming the workshop was some sort of top secret executive meeting.
As I mentioned earlier, the workshop was open to the public. We received a notification on Tuesday (after we had already gone to press for the day), but an announcement appeared in our print edition and website on Wednesday. Several residents were also present.
There has been talk of the two groups starting to meet quarterly, with another workshop scheduled for September.
That’s good, because that gets to the root of the real problem here.
In many aspects of our community, there has been a breakdown in communication and cooperation. Whether the result of misunderstanding, ignorance, or a deliberate plan, those who are meant to lead have instead split into small groups to work on their own individual projects, often creating conflict with others.
I’m in no way trying to pretend that we’ve ever been in this perfect symbiotic co-op where everyone got along and danced in flower-covered meadows, but most of the time the different groups were at least going up the facade to pretend to be willing to work together.
We talk about building for the future of the Weirton area. Those in positions of trust emphasize economic development efforts, which is all well and good, but if you invest in one area and ignore everything else, does that really do people any good?
I hope that last night’s meeting is really the first of a long series and that it will help to improve the problems between these two specific bodies. There are personality clashes of course, but these should be put aside for the greater good.
My other hope is that this is not the only effort for the betterment of our community. For a time, the city provided an annual update from the mayor through an address on the state of the city. It might be a good idea to consider bringing them back. Council members, if they are not already members, should hold periodic town hall meetings to meet their constituents. Emails and phone messages are easy to ignore. Face-to-face, you have to listen and respond.
Roundtables with local non-profit organizations, the chamber of commerce, civic groups and others would also be a plus.
Open dialog lines. Come together. You can’t have “Success in unity” without a desire to at least listen to each other.
(Howell, a Colliers resident, is editor of the Weirton Daily Times, and can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)