FAIRMONT, W.Va. — The city of Fairmont is preparing to demolish the largest industrial dilapidated structure in the city and build a section of local trail that will also be part of the Parkersburg to Pittsburgh (P2P) corridor and the Industrial Heartlands Trail Corridor.

“A lot of work in the last couple of years has been happening toward these projects, and I think this is going to be the time residents start seeing movement and action, and that’s going to breed a lot of hope,” Fairmont City Manager Travis Blosser said.

The city was granted right-of-entry to the property near the East-West Stadium and has begun an environmental assessment as demolition plans are completed. The facility was a glass factory that was repurposed in the 1980s as a box factory and has not been used for the last several years.

The P2P is a 238-mile rail trail that is currently 80 percent complete, with at least four gaps in West Virginia yet to be completed.

“This is part of the Parkersburg to Pittsburgh Corridor that we’ve been working on for a number of years,” City of Fairmont Director of Planning and Development Shae Strait said. “And it looks like we will be the first community in West Virginia to build any new mileage of trail on that route since it was first proposed nearly eight years ago.”

The demolition of the box factory is also part of the larger vision including the Beltline neighborhood. The improvements in that project are from the Monongahela River to the West Fork River by way of Fairmont Avenue and Third Street.

“I am aware of this being a place that creates fear, anxiety, or even a loss of hope for community members,” Strait said. “We want it to be a place where we can build that community instead and give them a vision for the future.”

While improvements continue in the area of the box factory and the Beltline neighborhood, the city continues its annual blight removal campaign across the city. Blosser said part of the redevelopment strategy is to get residents to purchase the now vacant lots that are growing in number as more blighted structures come down.

“We’re turning our attention to figuring out incentives to get folks to acquire those lots,” Blosser said. “And either build new housing, expand existing housing, or meet other types of individual needs for property owners.”

Blosser hopes to infuse community pride with the recent movement of major projects as well as draw attention from surrounding areas.

“Fairmont is on the verge of starting to become the laboratory for municipal innovation here in the state of West Virginia,” Blosser said. “Our goal is to start showing every city in this state what they should be doing in order to move their communities forward.”

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