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Officials celebrate track portion of Mountaineer Center with ribbon-cutting

MORGANTOWN — “This is a very special day for Mylan Park. It’s a very special day for our community.”
Mylan Park Foundation President Ron Justice offered the above in kicking off Friday morning’s ribbon cutting ceremony for Mylan Park’s new track and field complex.
Dozens of spectators were bundled against a light rain on a chilly morning to take in the official opening of the $7 million track facility, located at 1835 Fitness Way.
The sounds of construction could be heard from the nearby aquatic center, which along with the track complex will make up the Mountaineer Center. The $35 million aquatic center is expected to open next fall.
The project has been a collaborative effort between Mylan Park, the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust, WVU, the Monongalia County Commission, the Monongalia County Board of Education (BOE), the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and various other stakeholders.
Steve Farmer, representing the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust, said the $15 million provided by the trust  for the project represents the largest single gift it’s ever made.
Farmer said the state-of-the-art facility, which features a Mondo track surface, is a long way from the cinder track he ran as a kid at Morgantown High School.
“We have come a long, long, long way,” he said, explaining that the completed Mountaineer Center will be among the top facilities in the eastern United States.
“Not only is it important that our citizens use it and get the benefit from it. But I would also like for our humble culture to embrace it and understand that we can have the best and that we insist on the best,” Farmer said.
Both the track and aquatic facilities will be home to WVU athletics as well as local high school teams. Both will also include amenities specifically for the community, including the 1/3-mile walking surface surrounding the competition track and field event structures.
“I can’t calculate the added value to our recruiting efforts, and I know that we will be proud to call this place home,” WVU Athletics Director Shane Lyons said. “This has the capacity to draw the local, state and regional events to Morgantown — things like the Big 12 Tournament, high school track championships, the Special Olympics to name a few.”
BOE President Ron Lytle said the district is thrilled to finally have a track facility for its athletes. He said the project is not only first class, but in line with the vision of the many community leaders who made Mylan Park possible.
“A long time ago some people had a vision of what could happen on an old abandoned coal mine … The vision at that time was to serve kids, and that’s still what it is today,” Lytle said, adding “Part of this is about giving health and well-being, but the fact is that these kids are going to learn one thing — what Mylan Park stands for, the opportunity to give back to your community.”
According to County Commission President Tom Bloom, the county and WVU have agreed to split the estimated $600,000 it will cost to outfit the track facility with lights come spring.
He said he’s proud the commission could be part of providing a home venue for local track athletes and a center for health and wellness for the community.
“Today, the quality of life just took a leap forward in our county and surrounding communities, and we should all be proud,” Bloom said.
Following the remarks, representatives from various stakeholders  walked a ceremonial first lap.
The Mylan Park Foundation financed the Mountaineer Center projects and will own the facilities.
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