Railyard future still a mystery

WEIRTON, W.Va. – A year after asking city officials to subdivide their property, the community still is waiting to hear what ArcelorMittal has in mind for the 800 acres it’s trying to sell.

Keith Nagel of Tecumseh Redevelopment, ArcelorMittal’s real estate arm, had told city officials in March 2012 that subdividing “sets us up to transact the properties we no longer need for our business.”

Though he declined to say who was lurking in the wings, he did tease that it “will be exciting news” for a community hungry for jobs and revenue.

But that was 2012.

Now, a full year later, the potential buyer is still behind the curtain: Those privy to the behind-the-scenes deal-making aren’t talking, at least not publicly. Nagel did not return calls to his office this week.

Mark Glyptis, president of United Steelworkers union Local 2911 in Weirton, said he’s confident that, sooner or later, the sale will go through. Glyptis serves on the committee organized five years ago to facilitate the property’s resale, so he knows more than he can – or will – say about Arcelor’s redevelopment efforts. He did say, however, the negotiations are at a “critical” point.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., makes it clear he wants to see a deal. In a statement Rockefeller said for the last six years he’s been working with “community stakeholders, business leaders and economic development officials on ways to bring new jobs to this community.”

“Smart use of vacant ArcelorMittal property, which I believe is ripe for opportunity, is a key piece of that effort,” wrote Rockefeller, who will leave office in 2014 after five terms in the Senate and a 50-year career in public service. “It’s imperative, in fact, because it represents an urgent community need. The people of Weirton have waited a long time and deserve to see progress.”

Harris is a reporter with the Herald-Star in Steubenville.