By Wendy Holdren
The city of Beckley has seen many changes over the past year, including the erection of the Beckley Intermodal Gateway project, a devastating downtown fire, the loss of one university, and the gain of another.
So what will 2013 have in store for the city?
Several members of the Beckley Common Council shared some “New Year’s resolutions” with The Register-Herald.
Of the council members who responded, many were interested in continuing cleanup, restoration and beautification of the city.
Chris Hall, councilman of Ward III, said there has been a tremendous revitalization of Freedom Park on Eisenhower Drive though partnerships between the city and numerous private groups, such as Beckley Area Foundation and the Rotary Club.
“Those efforts are now continuing with a project to make improvements at New River Park with contributions from other area organizations,” Hall said. “I am looking forward to working on these efforts to bring renewed energy to one of Beckley’s hidden gems and making upgrades to all of Beckley’s parks.”
Hall, Ward V Councilman Ron Booker and Councilman-at-Large Cedric Robertson all agreed the demolition of abandoned houses and dilapidated structures needs to be addressed.
Hall also mentioned his concern about the rise in violent crime in the past year.
“Our police department has done an excellent job solving these crimes; however, I would like to see more collaboration between law enforcement, council, religious organizations and community groups on the prevention of crimes and drug abuse.”
Robertson said he hopes to continue to pursue accreditation for the police department and Booker said he hopes to see administrative changes within the police department.
Booker also said he wants parking issues to be addressed.
Ward I Councilman Tom Sopher wishes for the recycling program in Beckley to be brought to more people’s attention.
He also wants to pursue the annexation of some areas into the city limits.
“A lot of people think they live in Beckley, but many parts have holes.”
Sopher said there are many advantages to living in city limits, such as fire department and police response times.
He said the process will be a lengthy one but he hopes to see the wheels start turning in 2013 for annexation.
Tim Berry, councilman-at large, said as the city continues to grow, it will become more attractive to the tourist traffic that comes through the area.
“It is my wish to encourage young entrepreneurs with fresh new ideas to find a home in Beckley.”
Beckley residents have much to look forward to in the new year.
The next Common Council meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8.
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