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WCCBI is opposed to hotel proposal

The Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry does not support the proposed riverfront hotel.

But they are proposing a working group — the Trestle to Trestle Task Force — that aims to take a comprehensive look at the downtown.

“Our position is that we are not opposed to a new hotel but we do not feel that the location proposed is appropriate based upon the significant incursion the footprint of the property has on the existing businesses on Clark Street, Jim Decker, president/CEO of the WCCBI said.

“We are forming the ‘Trestle-to-Trestle Redevelopment Taskforce” which the WCCBI will facilitate,” he added.

The area that will be the focus of the the group is bounded east to west by the railroad trestles that cross the Allegheny River. Crescent Park will be the southern boundary with Pennsylvania Ave. the northern limit.

“The mission of the Taskforce will be to develop an inventory of all properties lying within this footprint for current usage, vacancy, availability, etc.,” Decker said. “Also, a prioritized list of redevelopment needs will be established which considers what new businesses are required/desired within the community and where within the footprint would that new business best be located?”

The group will also work to develop financing options for the individual projects in addition to working closely with city staff and council, Decker said.

Did the opposition to the hotel spur the birth of this group? In effect, yes.

“The controversy over the hotel was a major factor in the decision to create this taskforce,” Decker said. “Developing and administering property redevelopment projects consume significant resources on many fronts. We are hopeful that through the efforts of the Taskforce, projects such as the hotel will be more widely supported.”

He explained that the “over-arching objective” is the development of a plan for the area “which can be used to garner community and funding partner support to achieve success in completing the projects identified.”

A total of 15 people will serve on the task force.

The effort came up with Wednesday’s City of Warren Planning Commission meeting, as well.

“I’m very excited about this effort,” Vince DeJoy, the city’s new planner, said, noting the information would be helpful in the development of the city’s comprehensive plan.

“I believe this is a great opportunity,” Commission chair Don Nelson added, saying he is “incredibly excited” and that the effort is the “right thing to do.”

Potential participants are still being contacted to gauge their willingness. The entity is expected to convene for the first time in the next few weeks.

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