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BOPARC takes next step in ice arena project, construction planned for 2022

MORGANTOWN — The Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners have asked Mills Group to begin drafting construction and bid documents for a long-awaited project to overhaul the Morgantown Ice Arena. 

The goal, BOPARC Executive Director Melissa Wiles said, is for the initial phase of that work to begin in early 2022.

BOPARC intends to bond between $10 million and $11.5 million for the work. That money will be paid back over time using a portion of BOPARC’s allotment of the city’s new 1% sales tax, which took effect in July 2020.

The project will be put out as a base bid with add alternatives, meaning work that will be included depending on what the bids look like.

“We thought this was necessary at this point because it’s a larger scale project and the market is unpredictable. Construction supply and demand right now is fluctuating on a daily basis. For instance, the cost of steel has gone up 30% in the last two months. It’s a crazy market right now,” Wiles said.

The base bid includes the main rink, concourse and all systems related to maintaining the ice. One add alternative will be expansion of the front of the building, including the lobby, warming area, administrative wing and skate counter. A second add alternative will be expansion of the locker rooms. 

Taken together, the base bid and alternatives basically follow the footprint of the existing building, which began life in 1978 as a canopy over an outdoor sheet of ice.    

Wiles said there’s no way to know what all will be included until the bids come in. At that time, the board will decide what to prioritize if alternatives can be afforded.

“Chopping this phase into these pieces allows us to make sure we’re at least getting the important part of the structure, which is the improvements to the rink facility itself,” BOPARC President Patrick Hathaway said.  

The second phase of the project, which would follow sometime down the road, would build a second, studio-sized sheet of ice as well as added locker room and  programming space.

In addition to  using a portion of its sales tax revenue, BOPARC also receives funds from a recreation excess levy that are earmarked for this project.

It receives $455,000 annually from the five-year levy that was passed in 2016 and expires in June. The four-year renewal of that levy passed by voters in 2020 will provide BOPARC $257,572 annually for the ice arena project.

Wiles said she won’t know how much of BOPARC’s sales tax allotment will need to be put aside for bond repayment until a number of factors, including the total project cost and the length of the bonds, is determined.

BOPARC receives a quarter of the revenue generated by the city’s sales tax. At the end of October, the city received its first quarterly payment, totaling $1,206,614.29. 

BOPARC will use that initial payment of approximately $300,000 to tackle a number of projects, including a new King Street Park playground ($75,000); resurfacing of Krepps Park tennis and basketball courts ($50,000); Marilla Park upper ball field ($35,000); Krepps Dog Park drainage and fence upgrades ($30,000); Marilla Park tennis court resurfacing ($15,000) and a shade structure for the Krepps Pool ($8,000). Additionally, about $30,000 of that money has been budgeted to put together a request for qualifications and design work for Marilla Pool upgrades, leaving $57,000 for BOPARC’s contingency budget.