The City of Wheeling and the Wheeling Park Commission have partnered for the development, planning and construction of a new 11th Street Plaza between Main and Market streets in downtown Wheeling. The project is made possible through a gift from the late James Hunkler, who bequeathed funds to the commission for a new public green space in his hometown. The gift includes a permanent endowment to maintain the space in perpetuity.
“Mr. Hunkler’s gift allows the park to leverage our existing, strong relationship with the city in a unique and creative way that benefits everyone, while creating a new dynamic public green space filled with seasonal flowering trees and shrubs in downtown Wheeling,” said David Lindelow, Wheeling Park Commission president and CEO.
Mayor Glenn Elliott said the City of Wheeling is pleased to partner with the Wheeling Park Commission for this project.
“This green space will certainly enhance our downtown, and we are very appreciative of Mr. Hunkler’s gift. His generosity will make a difference to our citizens and visitors alike with such an improvement to our community,” he said.
City Manager Robert Herron complimented the design that incorporates existing sculpture with new raised planters, flowering trees, shrubs, decorative light posts and dynamic patio lighting. The completed space will include granite seating and a nod to local history. The site of the Zane family’s blockhouse will be outlined within the refurbished space. The city’s streetscape beautification project will inlay footprints across Main Street tracing Betty Zane’s heroic run for ammunition during the siege of Fort Henry in 1782.
“The beauty of this project is we’re turning an awkward thoroughfare into a highly functional pedestrian plaza that acknowledges our history, adds needed green space to benefit the community while showcasing our city,” he said.
Landscape Architect Gabe Hays, of the Wallace Plancher Group, designed the new park with Savage Construction serving as the general contractor.
Hunkler, a native of Wheeling, lived and worked in Columbus, Ohio. A successful writer and editor, he was employed by Battelle Memorial Institute for more than 40 years serving in a wide range of public and community relations positions. A recipient of many journalism awards, Hunkler graduated from West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media with high honors in 1950. A thoughtful and generous community leader, Hunkler served on many boards that focused on improving lives physically, intellectually and spiritually.
Oglebay Foundation President and CEO Eriks Janelsins noted that without the generosity of people like Hunkler, many of the groundbreaking projects that define living in the Ohio Valley would never have happened.
“Oglebay and Wheeling Park, and so much more, are all here because generous like-minded people put a priority on improving their community with an eye toward ensuring that their efforts would endure for generations,” he said.
Construction and planting are scheduled to be completed later this fall.