When was the last time you took a stroll through the Centre Market neighborhood in Wheeling? What was that experience like? How could it be improved? These are some of the questions that the City of Wheeling, along with Smart Growth America hopes to answer at a special open streets workshop that will be held on Wednesday, July 20, beginning at the Upper Market House (2200 Market Street).
Interested residents are invited to join City of Wheeling and Smart Growth America representatives as they walk around the Center Market, interact with local businesses, and attend a workshop and discussion session in the evening to brainstorm challenges and ideas to revitalize the Center Market and streets around it.
Open Streets Come to Wheeling
Why is a workshop like this taking place in Wheeling? It began when Ward 3 Councilmember Rosemary Ketchum was one of 20 people inducted into Smart Growth America’s Active People, Healthy Nation℠ Champions Institute in 2021. The program is designed to help elected officials effectively advocate for and support safer and more complete streets in their communities. Through this program, Councilwoman Ketchum participated in virtual training focused on how to make Wheeling a more accessible, equitable, and economically viable community for all residents using Smart Growth America’s Complete Streets framework.
Councilwoman Ketchum identified Centre Market as the focus for a pilot project implementing all of the valuable information she learned through the program.
“Reimagining what it looks like for our historic Centre Market to thrive in 2022 is key to building a stronger, more vibrant small business environment,” said Ketchum. “This workshop will help the community define what it means to be pedestrian-friendly and focus on the importance of walkability and connectivity among adjacent neighborhoods and amenities.”
Councilwoman Ketchum hopes that interested residents will attend the workshop to share their insights and learn something new from the Smart Growth America facilitators.
How You Can Get Involved
The July 20 workshop is an opportunity for residents to help identify opportunities that will enhance the pedestrian experience for visitors at Centre Market. Participants will be prompted to envision changes to the area surrounding Centre Market.
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The information garnered from the workshop will help inform a new “open streets” initiative for Centre Market, which entails temporarily opening streets to people by closing them to cars, making it safer to walk and creating space for outdoor dining, vendors, and social gathering.
The workshop will begin on Wednesday at 10 a.m. with a walk audit of the Centre Market area. Facilitators will lead a walk around the Centre Market area to evaluate street safety for walking, biking and rolling, discuss challenges and opportunities, and interact with local businesses and partners. Worksheets will be provided to record observations.
Can’t make the workshop? There are worksheets available at Centre Market that you can fill out on your own.
Later that day, an evening workshop will be held at 5:30 p.m. to discuss an overview of Wheeling’s open streets initiative, followed by a presentation by representatives from Smart Growth America. The presentation will cover the benefits of open and complete streets initiatives, share success stories from other communities with similar visions and more. Following the presentation, representatives from Smart Growth America will lead a discussion of the findings from the walk audit and identify key issues and opportunities for the Centre Market area.
As key stakeholders and decision-makers in our community, input from the community will be invaluable. Learn more about the Centre Market Open Streets workshop here. You can also learn more about Smart Growth America by visiting smartgrowthamerica.org.
• Alex Panas is the Program Manager for Wheeling Heritage, where she works with artists, small business owners, and community stakeholders to provide technical assistance and create meaningful programs that enhance Wheeling. She also serves as the managing editor for Weelunk. Alex lives in St. Clairsville with her husband where they raise three cats and four spunky backyard chickens.