Columns/Opinion, Guest Editorials

Nonprofit status of Mylan Park is not an ‘illusion’

By Craig Walker

Having read the article regarding Morgantown’s town hall meeting and the Deputy Mayor’s comments regarding Mylan Park, I am compelled to respond.

In 1999, I served as the original treasurer for the predecessor of the Mylan Park Foundation — the Monongalia County Schools Foundation. Over the years, I also served as vice president and president for the Foundation.
In 1999, the Foundation was granted nonprofit status by the IRS. The foundation was established for the purpose of providing assistance to Monongalia County Schools. Through a generous gift of land by Anker Energy and donated materials and labor, 7 acres on Chaplin Hill Road were developed into baseball and softball fields.

Over the years, the 7 acres have grown to over 300 acres and the scope of the park has grown to include recreation, education, social services and community support. Included in the park are Mylan Park Elementary School, Monongalia Schools Alternative Learning Center, Monongalia Schools Transportation Center, Stepping Stones, Miracle Field, Pro Performance, PACE Enterprises and Operation Welcome Home — and soon to be the home for Monongalia County Extension Service and Mountaineer Aquatic and Track Complex.
The Park has served as host for Mountainfest, which has brought millions of dollars of economic benefit to the Greater Morgantown area, as well as the annual Monongalia County Fair.
A cornerstone of the Park is the J.W. & Hazel Ruby Community Center. This building was made possible by the generosity of the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust and provides a home for many diverse community events.

The deputy mayor was attributed with saying he encouraged local residents to be wary of the illusion of Mylan Park’s non-profit status without checking into how much its executives are paid. The fact, not illusion, is simply that the Mylan Park Foundation is a nonprofit recognized by the IRS and West Virginia.
The Foundation’s annual IRS Form 990’s have been readily available to the public since inception in 1999. I can ensure you that the Park has been managed over the years with a most modest payroll for its few employees and has been managed for the past several years by PACE Enterprises by contract.
Every Mylan Park Board member — past and present — has donated their time, talent and treasure to the Park as volunteers without any compensation whatsoever.

Perhaps, the deputy mayor, the city manager and the other members of Morgantown City Council can look for ways to improve the greater Morgantown area by cooperative means as opposed to a constant adversarial approach — everyone in and around Morgantown will be much better served with the former approach.

Craig Walker is the former president, vice president and treasurer of the Mylan Park Foundation. He lives in Morgantown. This commentary should be considered another point of view and not necessarily the opinion or editorial policy of The Dominion Post.