Dunbar Mayor Bill Cunningham is seeing some exciting developments throughout his city in coming days and weeks, signs of progress and renewed optimism after months of COVID-19 concerns and cancellations.
The ability to conduct business in the city is returning incrementally back to normal in the “new normal,” for example.
Dunbar City Hall reopened for walk-in business on June 11. “We have been been semi-open for quite a while, but we were doing by appointment only then,” the mayor said.
Social distancing requirements and restrictions remain in effect for City Hall employees and visitors. “City Hall prepared inserts into the doors of the clerks’ offices so that no one has to enter any of the work areas to access the personnel to pay bills or get information or anything at all,” Cunningham said. “Thanks to DuPont, we have a more than adequate supply of sanitizer. All of that’s in place.”
The mayor said repairs to the Dunbar Senior Center have also resumed recently.
“Right when COVID-19 hit, we were in the process of doing a renovation to the Senior Center, stripping asbestos tile flooring,” Cunningham said. “The contractor we had scheduled had to hold up on the project because he didn’t have the workers [during the COVID-19 shutdown]. Since the lifting of some of the restrictions, he has his people back in. The tile has been stripped out and they’re preparing the floor for painting. In the next couple of weeks, we should have all of the furniture back in, and we’re working on having limited programs in place in the Senior Center.”
New opportunities for work and play are taking place throughout Dunbar, too, he noted.
The city announced recently that a Taco Bell restaurant will be constructed in the near future. It will be located between the TLC Lube & Wash Car Care Center and the Subway restaurant on Dunbar Avenue, near the Dunbar Shopping Plaza.
“From the plans we’ve seen, it’s going to be a 50-seat Taco Bell. I don’t know any other Taco Bells in the area that seat that many people. It’s pretty exciting,” said Cunningham.
“A lot of things like this are due to the traffic Dunbar is getting from the Shawnee Sports Complex. We get a tremendous amount of business when they’re in operation. Numerous people have come and talked to us the past couple of years about coming to Dunbar. The Sports Complex is definitely a shot in the arm for the City of Dunbar for business and traffic.
“Our overall sales tax revenue has increased since they’ve been open,” Cunningham added. “Those are the things that you can measure the success of something by.”
Moreover, watery fun is on its way soon to Dunbar neighborhoods, the mayor noted.
“City Council last Monday approved us purchasing the equipment for a portable sprinkle park,” Cunningham said. “The components are all movable, so we’ll be taking the sprinkle park through the neighborhoods in the city day to day and week to week.
“It’ll give kids the opportunity to get out and have some fun. It’s quite simple and not extremely expensive, especially compared to setting up a full-fledged sprinkle park.”
Cunningham said the equipment for the sprinkle park has been ordered and should be operational sometime this month.
“We also made arrangements with the water company to obtain a hydrant meter so we can monitor the water being used and reimburse them for it,” he said.
Cunningham was appointed as mayor three years ago by the Dunbar City Council, to replace Terry Greenlee, who resigned the mayoral post to take a position with the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration.
At the time of his appointment, Cunningham said he would not seek re-election. As a result of June 9’s primary election, Dunbar City Council member Greg Hudson won the Republican mayoral nomination. Former Dunbar City Police captain and current City Works Director Scott Elliott won the Democratic nod to face Hudson in November’s General Election.
Cunningham said he believes the city will be well served by the candidates who are on the General Election ballot.
“Everybody on the ballot who made it through [the Primary Election] has been invested in Dunbar for years,” he explained, “and active in what goes on in the city. I think they’ll be an asset in the future.
“Both candidates running for mayor are very active in the city. Each has their strengths, both are great men, and either one will do a great job for the city. Their hearts are in it and they’re committed,” Cunningham said.