BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) – Community Activist, Danielle Stewart, recently sparked a conversation on social media following the recent news of several city offices moving to new locations.
Beckley Code Enforcement moved from its former Uptown Beckley location into the new fire station, and the city’s IT department is also heading to that side of town. Stewart wondered if they are just another business that is no longer Uptown.
“The reason behind my Facebook post is that downtown is struggling when you look around,” Steward explained.
In addition to certain city offices and private businesses relocating voluntarily, a few were forced to make other arrangements when the Walton Bond Building collapsed, shutting down Main Street indefinitely.
“It’s really tragic on Main Street because you had building owners that took care of their buildings and really invested in them, but they’re gonna lose them because of the building between it,” Stewart added. “When you really start digging into it, you find that it isn’t just these problems. I would say half the buildings Uptown are for sale with owners all trying to get out.”
While community activists like Stewart believe this is a domino affect of abandonment, Mayor Rob Rappold said the city is doing everything possible to revitalize Uptown.
“We’re gonna do things that are gonna attract more people,” Mayor Rappold said. “We’re really excited about our plaza coming along (formerly know as the Beckley Hole), and have statues coming,” Rappold said.
He also said city departments moving are simply upgrades, and the Walton Building collapse was a wake up call on how they can move forward checking older structures.
“We’re gonna step up our requirements for structural engineers to inspect and issue a certificate of safety to buildings that are suspect in the city of Beckley, so that’s one thing we’re doing,” Rappold added.
Community members think meetings should be held with city, county, and building owners to discuss ways Uptown Beckley could be more vibrant. One of those ways could be applying for grants meant for historical districts, like Beckley, so owners can fix up their properties.