Thursday evening, Weirton Council and the Weirton Park Board met in a public workshop to air out some their issues.
Members of the Park Board have a series of improvement projects they would like to tackle, but not enough money to move forward on most of them. They claim a lack of response from council to some of their previous requests for discussion. Members of council said they weren’t aware of many of those requests. That’s a whole other issue, but feeds into these thoughts.
As part of a developing habit, I took a photo and posted it to a couple of my work-related social media accounts with a brief explanation of the meeting. The full article would be published online and in print the next day.
I woke up Friday morning to a couple of responses to my photo post.
One was from a former councilmember who mentioned Weirton’s business and occupation tax revenue as a possible source of funds for recreation projects. The individual mentioned when the B&O structure was changed several years ago, under a prior administration, one of the hopes from some members at the time was to invest in recreation as that was among the priorities of residents with whom they spoke.
The other comment was from a resident trying to accuse me of helping to cover things up for the city and claiming the workshop was some sort of top-secret executive session gathering.
As I previously noted, the workshop was open to the public. We received a notification Tuesday (after we had already gone to press for the day), but an announcement was published in our print edition and our website Wednesday. There also were several residents in attendance.
There was discussion of the two groups would begin meeting quarterly, with another workshop to be scheduled in September.
That’s good, because it gets at the root of the real issue here.
In many aspects of our community, there has been a breakdown in communication and cooperation. Whether the result of a misunderstanding, ignorance or a delibrate plan, those who are expected to lead have instead broken off into their own little groups to work on their own individual projects, often creating conflict with others.
I’m in no way trying to claim we were ever in this perfect, symbiotic cooperative where everyone got along and danced around in flower-covered meadows, but most of the time the different groups at least put up the facade to pretend to be willing to work together.
We talk about building for the future of the Weirton area. Those put in positions of trust point to the efforts of economic development, which is all well and good, but if you invest in one area and ignore everything else, is any of it really doing the people any good?
I hope last night’s meeting truly is the first of many, and helps to improve any issues between those two specific bodies. There are conflicts of personality, for sure, but those must be put to the side for the greater good.
My other hope is that is not the only effort for the betterment of our community. For a while, the city provided a yearly update from the mayor through a State of the City Address. It might be a good idea to look into bringing those back. Councilmembers, if they aren’t already, should host periodic town halls to meet with their constituents. Emails and phone messages are easy to ignore. Gathering face-to-face, you have to listen and respond.
Roundtables with local non-profit organizations, the chamber of commerce, civic groups and others also would be a plus.
Open the lines of dialogue. Come together. You can’t have Success in Unity without a willingness to at least listen to each other.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)