An “idea” wall that serves as a wish list is something Wendy Scatterday collected during her listening tour and successful campaign for the council seat representing her native fourth ward.
While some believe the city of Wheeling should hire a full-time grant writer, others feel more neighborhood events would enhance the community feel in the ward. Then there are those who simply hope for improvements to playgrounds, a footbridge, sidewalks and curbs. They want their alleys paved, speeding laws enforced, property hoarders addressed, and a true recycling program initiated.
And one resident borrowed a popular slogan adopted by one of the current presidential candidates when replying, “Make Wheeling great again.”
Some of the offered thoughts did not apply to the responsibilities of municipal government, but most were well within the jurisdiction of a city council representative and will serve as guidelines when thinking proactively about the future of the Friendly City.
“It wasn’t an original idea of mine because it’s a technique that I learned through my career as an architect, and I have always found that it’s a great way to allow people to brainstorm ideas,” Scatterday said. “When you do look at the collage of ideas, you’ll see a lot of great ideas. It was a low-tech way to engage the people to find out what their concerns and ideas are at this time.
“It also allowed them to know that they matter, and their concerns and ideas matter enough to me that we were going to write them down so they can be part of my focus.
“We may not be able to accomplish everything because some of the post-it notes have just dreams written on them, and some are just fun ideas. But that’s important, too, because if we’re not dreaming, then we’re not aspiring to improve,” she continued. “One of the questions I asked the folks was what they had seen done in another place that they would like to see tried here. I’ve traveled, but I’ve not been everywhere, so I really wanted to share their insights from where they have visited.”
The collection of the comments from Ward 4 residents took place as Scatterday made her way up and down every street in Ward 4, a district that includes parts of the Woodsdale, Clator, Pleasanton, Greggsville, Forest Hills, Oglebay, and Leatherwood neighborhoods.
“I know I got very close to knocking on every door in the ward, but the exceptions were the residences that had ‘No Trespassing’ signs up or a fenced-in yard with dogs in it,” Scatterday said. “And there are a few more unoccupied structures than I had realized.
“There were a couple of points I had when I decided to knock on as many doors as possible, and those were to meet the residents so they knew what they would get if they voted for me. That’s why I didn’t have anyone else knocking on doors for me,” she continued. “And if someone wasn’t home, they received a handwritten note from me. And I also wanted to see everything with my own two eyes. Although I grew up in Wheeling and I had been down the majority of streets in the ward, there were a few that I experienced for the first time, and I’m thankful I chose to do it the way I did.”
Although she was raised in the Woodsdale area, Scatterday did learn a lot during what she refers to as a listening tour through Ward 4. She heard about drainage issues in Clator and roadway concerns in the Morningside area, and many residents through the ward expressed concern about speeding, safety, and children.
“A lot of the comments that I received were infrastructure oriented, and that means the roads and the sidewalks but also some utility-type issues,” Scatterday said. “I found that folks are very aware and appreciate that there are limited resources and a limited amount of staff and equipment, but what I heard wasn’t people being nit-picky. Instead, they talked with me about legitimate issues.
“Some told me that they had been trying to get a situation resolved for a long time, and they said the communication they had wasn’t as great as they had hoped,” she continued. “And there were people who told me that an issue was resolved, but that it took a long time to reach that point. I found it all to be very thoughtful, and no one really asked for too much.”
Scatterday joined many of her neighbors in 2013 with concern about a proposed development on the hilltop located between Woodsdale and Greggsville along W.Va. Route 88. G.C. & P. Development purchased the property and began logging approximately 90 acres to make way for undefined development. She attended a public meeting and found the room at the City-County Building full of her neighbors who complained about water runoff and the potential for soil movement.
Scatterday then assisted with the organization of a community group known as “Woodsdale United,” and she began collecting as much information as possible about the work being performed.
“If there was anything that really generated the idea for me to crossover from private life to public life, it was my experience with Woodsdale United the past three years,” Scatterday revealed. “The people were disenfranchised, and they were afraid and scared because they had no information. Now, the current status for the property is that there is a court-ordered injunction that was issued in January, and that followed a stop-work order that was issued in December by the city of Wheeling.
“Now, the property owners, at a time of their choosing, must submit an application and then go through the entire site-plan review process,” she continued. “If they choose to develop it as a residential subdivision, there is a subdivision site-plan review. That has not happened, so it sits, and it waits with the injunction still in place.”
She will assume her Ward 4 seat on City Council on July 5, when five new council members and Mayor-Elect Glenn Elliott join Ward 2 incumbent Ken Imer to conduct their first regular meeting.
“We’ve started having meetings so we can be de-briefed by the city manager, and I am working on the list from all of the door-to-door visits because I ended up knocking on around, 1,700 doors and I likely talked to about 800-or-so people during the process,” Scatterday said. “There are quite a number of items on that list that I will be researching so I can bring those issues up. And I am working on ways how I can continue to engage the residents of Ward 4 on a regular basis.
“My plea to everyone now is for them to go all-in for Wheeling right now so we can engage in a way that will help Wheeling move forward,” she added. “I believe that would be the best way for us to do our jobs at this time, and I am hopeful the residents will feel the exact same way.”
(Photos provided by Wendy Scatterday)