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$300K allocated for Woodburn school building

Block Grant funds will be used for accessibility improvements

More than $300,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds  will be directed toward ongoing accessibility improvements at the former Woodburn school building.

 That’s part of an action plan approved by Morgantown City Council outlining exactly how the city will utilize $427,265 in CDBG money.

Of that amount, 20% ($82,953) will go toward administrative expenses, which includes $2,500 for the Fairmont Morgantown Housing Authority. The remainder will be divided between;

  • Bartlett Housing Solutions ($25,000) 
  • Morgantown Area Youth Services Project ($14,000)
  • Catholic Charities ($2,500)

Morgantown Development Services Director Chris Fletcher said a $39,885 request from Christian Help was not included. The charity was looking to use the money to make physical improvements to its facility.

Fletcher said that when it comes to capital improvement projects, the aim is to use CDBG money primarily on publicly-owned facilities like parks, and in this case, the old Woodburn facility. 

He went on to say that there was also a fear that the request was not enough to complete the project.

He said that when it comes to individual agencies, “We try to focus more on the delivery of public services,” Fletcher said, adding “We have, in the past, used the CDBG for agencies that need physical improvements and renovations and we have not had great experiences with that.”

As for the former Woodburn School, the city has focused significant CDBG resources on needed accessibility issues with the 100-year-old building that has served as the home for a number of programs, including PopShop Performance Academy, MT Pockets Theatre, Friends of Deckers Creek and the Mountaineer Area Boys & Girls Club, among others.

The city purchased the 4-acre property on Fortney Street from the Monongalia County Board of Education for $490,000 in 2013.

 Last year, the city went back and reprogrammed $216,000 in CDBG funds from 2017 and 2018 to be used on the facility.

Council approved a contract with Veritas Contracting for $791,134 in November for improvements including construction of an elevator and a number of accessibility measures including new restroom facilities.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s CDBG program provides annual grants on a formula basis to entitled cities and counties. They are aimed at providing housing, a stable living environment and expanded economic opportunities for low-and moderate-income persons.

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