What would you bring to Huntington?

Huntington residents voice opinions about improvements to city


Kayla Chambers

The sun sets over Huntington, as seen looking over Fourth Avenue.

When asked what they would like to see Huntington officials bring to the city, approximately 50 responses from students and Huntington residents varied in topic.

While some ideas were fun and light-hearted, some issues needed a lot of consideration.

There is one thing most can agree on – Huntington is on the rise, and in order to keep the city on an upward economic slope, some changes may need to be considered.

“I believe Huntington is on the rise,” Julie Sheils, a teacher and Huntington resident said. “Over the past 20 years, Huntington has seen the development of Pullman Plaza which has totally revitalized downtown with shops, restaurants, movie theaters, hotels, concerts, enormous growth to both hospitals and expansions of Marshall University. Campus has never looked better.”

Sheils said she loves Huntington and thinks the amount of growth over the years is impressive, but said she would like to see Marshall build a baseball stadium close to campus.

Sheils said Huntington could use a Sky Zone, indoor soccer facilities, a fitness center for children, a spray park and completion of PATH.

A lot of residents said they are happy the barrack style housing projects are being torn down and property is being developed for commercial use.

“By integrating subsidized housing with other incomes, the low-income residents can feel safer, provide upward mobility and bridge the differences between incomes so that low-income residents do not need to feel isolated,” Marshall student Jessica Hutchinson said.

Sheils said her daughter is happy to see this area being renovated, and Marshall student Stacy Hacker agrees with that statement.

“Thank goodness they’ve started to tear it down,” Hacker said. “I know they’re people’s homes but it’s also a horrible clutter of crime-filled buildings that look condemned. It’s such an awful representation of Huntington.”

Megan Vealey, a former Tampa, Florida resident, said she thinks the city should focus on making it a safer, cleaner environment.

“I think before there’s a zoo, more shopping centers, or restaurants, we should just start with making it a cleaner, safer area,” Vealey said. “Huntington is a very depressing city to be living in right now. We need to start by demolishing or renovating properties, cleaning up parks, planting trees and flowers and fixing the potholes in the roads.”

Hacker agreed with Vealey’s idea of planting more trees and flowers and wants to further the idea of planting fresh produce.

“I think community gardens are a great idea as far as parents being able to do fun meaningful things with their children outdoors,” Hacker said. “Huntington is poor, there’s no question about that, and unfortunately when financial instability effects homes nutrition is one of the main things that suffer. Community gardens could be the only way some families have access to tomatoes and other important, easy to grow foods.”

Hacker said she believes the gardens would be aesthetically pleasing and would bring the community together to work towards a goal everyone can benefit from.

Sean Hornbuckle, a democratic member to the West Virginia House of Delegates and Marshall Alumni said he would like Huntington to get a community pool.

“Huntington no longer has a public pool so I feel some type of wet area at Ritter Park or the Riverfront would be great aesthetically and for use,” Hornbuckle said.

Hacker agreed with this idea.

“I think that everyone should have somewhere to go to have some clean, safe, summer fun,” Hacker said.

Another popular idea was a drive-in theater.

“I know for a fact if we got a drive-in theater, it would be the most popular thing to do,” said Marshall student Kayla Chambers. “It would just be a cool vintage type of thing for our city. Imagine how many people Huntington would bring in.” 

Chambers said she just wants to see the city be more lively and most importantly, like Vealey said, replace the potholes.

“I mean, I feel like it’s a pretty concrete request,” Chambers said.

Vealey said these are realistic goals that need to be surfaced and brought to the community’s attention.

“Everyone feels this way about Huntington, but we’re not doing anything to make it a better place to live,” Vealey said. “We just tweet about how it’s a terrible city and we can’t wait to move, but this is our hometown and the majority of us are just neglecting it.”

Hacker said all goals are realistic if you have the right people helping you reach them.

Karima Neghmouche can be contacted at [email protected].