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Morgantown Council to consider bonds for needed parking garage repairs

MORGANTOWN — After an initial delay, critical repairs to the Morgantown Parking Authority’s multi-level garage on University Avenue are about to get the green light. 

In the coming weeks, Morgantown City Council will consider a bond ordinance and reimbursement resolution for an amount not to exceed $3.25 million.

The funds will be used to upgrade the University Avenue garage and address structural issues. It will also fund work on a retaining wall along the authority’s Spruce Street parking lot.

Parking Authority Executive Director Dana McKenzie brought the issue to council last May, explaining an assessment by engineering firm GAI Consultants unveiled the need for slab work on multiple decks as well as repairs to support columns and one of the garage’s stairwells. The replacement of an elevator will also be included. 

“There’s no safety issues as of yet, but if we continue to let it go, there will be,” McKenzie said at the time.

The project didn’t immediately move forward as capital improvement projects in the city were on hold due to the budgetary impacts of COVID-19.

But it has to be done.

City Manager Kim Haws reiterated the importance of the project during council’s recent committee of the whole session, explaining, “The parking authority is in full agreement that this is necessary for them to be able to continue doing business effectively.”

Debt service on the bonds is anticipated to be about $94,000 annually to be paid solely from parking authority revenue.

McKenzie said he doesn’t foresee the project resulting in parking rate increases as the new bonds will come online just as the debt service on bonds for the Wharf District parking garage are retired. 

Asked how the additional debt will impact the authority given lowered revenue expectations due to COVID-19, McKenzie said he’s confident the authority will make it work.

“We have really cut corners. We have a great staff who has worked really well at saving, if you will. I appreciate all they do. It’s because of what they do that we’re able to continue to move forward for the best of the community,” he said. 

The project will be completed in stages. Work is expected to begin in May or June, barring any unexpected complications.

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