Columns/Opinion, Guest Editorials

Comments about Mylan Park lack facts, respect and civility

By Mark R. Nesselroad

My family has resided in Monongalia County for over 70 years and feels very blessed to have done so. As I waited for my family to get ready for church last weekend, I read the comments on the front page attributed to Mark Brazaitis with utter dismay.
His quotes and unfounded assertions in the newspaper are a sad and embarrassing commentary for our community and the Morgantown City Council:
“We don’t have a relationship as a city with WVU. We have a relationship that’s more akin to owner/servant with WVU,” Brazaitis said.
Next he was encouraging local residents to be wary of the “illusion” of Mylan Park’s nonprofit status without checking into how much its executives are paid.
Let me try to help you with a few facts.
None of the Mylan Park Foundation’s Board members have ever been paid a dime by the 501(c)3 organization, just like many other great charitable organizations in our town, including the United Way, Milan Puskar Health Right and the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust.
This community has been blessed with the charitable spirit of many people’s time and gifts; it should not be assailed for this volunteerism. The Mylan Park Foundation’s bylaws clearly state the organization was formed “to advance educational, recreational, social and economic benefits, [and] to improve the quality of life” of our residents.
Is Brazaitis aware the city of Morgantown worked with Mylan Park to obtain the gift for the Hazel and J.W. Ruby Community Center and actually owns the property upon which it sits?
I would invite you to do a little research on the aquatic and track facility under construction, and you will find there were several published opportunities for community input and, in fact, Mylan Park invited every city in our county to participate in the planning.
The project will provide the only indoor Olympic size pool, diving well, community pool and track facility in the state of West Virginia. Without a $15 million gift from the Ruby Foundation, land and infrastructure from the Mylan Park Foundation, the support of WVU, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the County Commission, the facility would never have been possible.
In addition, it would not have been remotely affordable for use by the general public, which will have access to the community pool 100 percent of the time and the balance of the facility (competition pool and track) 90 percent of the time at my best guess. This facility has been embraced by the local and regional schools and teams.
You also need to understand that this facility, as well as all the facilities at Mylan Park, bring hundreds of thousands of people and millions of dollars to our community.
It is time the city of Morgantown embrace the economic benefit Mylan Park provides to the community as a whole, which is received without any city tax dollars at all.
In addition, I am proud that Mylan Park built the third Miracle Field in the USA, is the home of Pace Enterprises, Stepping Stones, Pro Performance’s indoor facility, Mylan Park Elementary, Operation Welcome Home and the Monongalia County Fair, the new WVU Extension Service building and all the many activities that are held at the 300-plus acre park.
The hard-working Board of this nonprofit entity has continually held out a hand to the city of Morgantown, BOPARC and the community in general.
WVU is asked to do more for our community, and here is a prime example of the university doing just that, by joining in a partnership with our community and its local foundations to build a facility for the community and the university. Now the deputy mayor of Morgantown is attacking it because it is not in the corporate limits of Morgantown.
I wholeheartedly endorse the recent letter to the editor (DP-July 15) signed by many of our state legislative candidates entitled “Candidates call for civility” and the comments of Councilor Ron Dulaney: “I think we need to build bridges and consensus. I think we’ll be far more effective doing that rather than engaging in antagonistic politics.”
Brazaitis is entitled to his thoughts and opinions, but please stand for them with respect.
Mark R. Nesselroad is a founding board member of the Mylan Park Foundation. He lives in Morgantown.