BOPARC panel unable to reach consensus on levy proposals, ice rink renovation plans

MORGANTOWN — Morgantown’s Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners (BOPARC) will not take an official position on levies  presented by independent groups wanting to ask taxpayers to bolster funding for the city’s recreation infrastructure.

The levy discussion was part of a lengthy Wednesday meeting, during which BOPARC also received a trio of ice rink renovation plans from the Mills Group representing estimated project costs ranging from $2.5 million to as much as $14.5 million.

Two levy proposals were presented to the Monongalia County Commission seeking placement on the November ballot  aimed at providing funds for BOPARC. Both came to the commission without BOPARC or city support, as both the city and BOPARC previously opted to not pursue levy discussions for November’s general election.

The first levy proposal to go before the  county commission — a five-year, $5.2 million levy for BOPARC maintenance and operations — was unanimously denied during the commission’s Wednesday morning meeting, largely due to a lack of support from the city or BOPARC.

Tony Christini, representing Friends of Greenbelt, the group that presented the  levy, said he would like to resubmit the proposal next week with BOPARC’s support. Christini said he also intends to ask city council to back the proposal the second time around.

Citing the commission’s decision earlier in the day, the board opted to not take a position on the matter as the levy was no longer up for consideration.

A second levy, this one for three years totaling  $8.5 million to fund a two-sheet, year-round ice rink, was also submitted on BOPARC’s behalf. It was presented by the Mason-Dixon Figure Skating Club.

The BOPARC board voted multiple times on a number of motions but could not reach consensus on the ice rink levy. Matters were complicated by the fact that there are only four members on the BOPARC board at the present, meaning every vote had to be unanimous in order to represent a majority of the seven-seat board.

Ultimately, the decision was made to end the discussion and move forward with the meeting without ever settling on an official decision. When Chairman Patrick Hathaway asked if the board wanted to circle back and put the issue back on the table, it was explained that the board opted to end the discussion thereby opting to not take an official position.

BOPARC is already part of a 2016 recreation levy from which it will receive $2.5 million for renovations and upgrades to its existing ice rink.

The Mills Group was contracted in January to come up with a range of designs — starting with a project for the $2.5 million available and ranging up to include the various amenities requested by stakeholders, including year-round access and a second sheet of ice.

The $2.5 million pro-ject would not alter the building’s footprint or exterior, instead focusing on persistent problems with the 40-year old structure, including electrical, plumbing and other mechanical issues.

Two additional designs, including one estimated at between $10 million and $12 million and another between $13 million and $14.5 million both featured a second sheet of ice and a number of other amenities, including a restaurant.

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