Huntington Council Extends Riverwalk, LLC Contract; Hears Needle Exchange Concerns

Updated 16 weeks ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Charlie McComas
Charlie McComas

Huntington City Council has unanimously approved a revision of the Riverwalk, LLC development contract for two years, since the marina construction has yet to begin due to what Mayor Steve Williams termed as a "financing gap."

Riverwalk, LLC is the successor to Superior /Huntington Marine which held a contract to construct a barge facility in Westmoreland which resulted in over 20 years of litigation. The city and Riverwalk partnered on redevelopment of Harris Riverfront Park in phases.  The 25 year lease will now begin October 1, 2017 and end October 1, 2042.

Mayor Steve Williams explained the need to extend without disturbing a court approved settlement. If the company had taken the city to trail ,  they would likely have been awarded tens of millions of dollars in damages for breaching (changing their mind) of the mooring contract.

At large council member Carol Polan said, "It could not have been a better outcome," adding that the city "did not have that kind of money setting around."

In addition , council unanimously approved an audit of city finances by Perry & Associates for $34,900 based on its scoring by purchasing and instructions from the state auditor's office.

During Good and Welfare Jackeline Hornbuckle complained about Water Quality Board shutoffs. Hornbuckle complained that she paid her sewer bill on Monday, July 17, but her water was turned off on Thursday, July 20 and was not restored until Monday, July 24. Although she found shower facilities elsewhere, she complained that elderly and disabled might not be so lucky.

Council member Charles McComas told her to, "call the l PSC and ask for a formal complaint. They will send an investigator to check your complaint." Mayor Williams, chairman of the Water Quality Board , had told council members that they have no direct oversight on sanitary, sewer, stormwater or floodwall matters.

Councilwoman Jennifer Wheeler, who previously complained on behalf of residents, now praised the WQB following a tour of their complex and expansive facility.

"It's hard to articulate the enormity of what goes on" .....   you can not comprehend all that "happens when you flush your commode,"  Wheeler said.

 

 A citizen also complained about the mechanism of the needle exchange program, wherein the Cabell County Health Department gives about 200 people 20 needles each per week. That is a total of 4,000 syringes. The "exchange" does not require that recipients return used needles.

 

Council vice chairman Alex Vence told of a needle issue in the 600 block of Sixth Avenue. He called the health department and they sent someone to retrieve discarded needles. Vence suggested that residents who discover needles call and ask that the health department come and pick up needles.

 

Trish Burns, one of the organizers of Palms Research Project, which will provide beds for recovery is awaiting inspections of its facility on Olive Street.

 

Mayor Williams told council that that local 289 of the International Firefighters passed their latest contract offer  53-14.  The contract will be referred to the finance committee then brought to council for possible approval.


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