EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw was back in East Palestine on Wednesday to renew the railroad company’s commitment to the future of the village.
A big concern is property value. So, Shaw came to town with a commitment to improving East Palestine Park to make the community more appealing for people wanting to move there or stay. Shaw quickly learned that the park is a big deal.
“What I’ve heard is that it’s a draw for everyone who lives in the community and then the surrounding communities,” he said.
Park foreman Brennan Harvey led Shaw’s tour of the park, starting at the swimming pool.
Norfolk Southern has already committed to paying for training and $500 bonuses for lifeguards.
The company has also hired an architect to develop an overall plan for the park. Once village officials approve it, the improvements will be significant.
“My goal is to figure out and work with my team and work with the community leaders on what we can do to help enhance this park and make it even more of a draw and help the community thrive and help the community prosper,” Shaw said.
Shaw walked past the tennis and basketball courts, which Norfolk Southern paid to have power washed. Then it was onto the playground where Norfolk Southern paid to have the mulch removed and replaced.
“You took it down to the bare bones, down to the studs,” Shaw said.
After touring the inside of the community center, they went back outside and overlooked the grassy open area where people gather for one of the area’s best Fourth of July celebrations.
Joining the tour was Marty Grim, president of the East Palestine Community Foundation. It was the first time she met with Shaw.
“Very pleased. He listened to all of us. We asked questions about the businesses, and were they being taken care of? We asked about the mental health and what was going to be done for that. He provided a lot of information for all of us,” she said.
Grim added that she was happy with Shaw’s answers.
Grim said the park is where her heart lies and the foundation has done a lot there, so they would like to see work done there as well.
“The best thing would be the revenue-generating facilities — the cabins and the pool. The pool needs help,” she said.
We also talked with Shaw about the timetable to get the derailment site cleaned up, long-term private well sampling and Norfolk Southern opening a permanent office in East Palestine. Tune in on Thursday to hear what he had to say on First News at 5 p.m.