MORGANTOWN — It’s been known simply as the former Ramada Inn since early 2019.
That’s when the idea to turn an old hotel and surrounding 10-acre property on Scott Avenue into a hub for social services was first made public.
Thanks to the generosity and efforts of many, and $3.5 million in CARES money, the idea is becoming a reality. And the name is about to change.
The Hazel House of Hope is the unofficial title now tied to the project.
Jonathan Board, interim director for nonprofit Morgantown Community Resources, which owns and operates the property, said he can’t confirm the name change.
But he can confirm what’s taking place in the 110,000-square-foot facility.
Bartlett Housing Solutions, The Salvation Army and The United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties are currently operating in the building.
And there’s more on the way. Board said that of the roughly 300 rooms in the building, there are only 15 or so that aren’t either occupied or under negotiation to some degree.
That’s not to mention a 5,000-square-foot, first-floor sobering center that, according to Morgantown Communications Director Andrew Stacy, is still on track to open this fall.
“The city is working to establish the nonprofit agency that will oversee the sobering center,” Stacy said, noting a board of directors is also being assembled. “City administration is also preparing to post the executive director job in the next week or two and is working to finalize some branding for the facility.”
Board said there are also announcements coming regarding use of some of the surrounding land.
“There are numerous discussions being had as to what to do with that,” Board said. “I’m certain that announcements will be made soon in reference to very creative problem solving-type solutions for housing and shelter and all sorts of things.”
One of the hurdles facing the concept is transportation, as many of the services relocating to Scott Avenue were once clustered in and around the downtown.
Mountain Line’s current service to Scott Avenue operates from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Mountain Line CEO Dave Bruffy said the transit authority budgeted for 2,500 additional service hours in the upcoming fiscal year, which equates to about $185,000. He said service could be extended from 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week for about $140,000.
After getting some additional information about the lunch and dinner programs being provided by The Salvation Army, Bruffy said Mountain Line is ready to begin route planning.
“We will likely begin the expanded service in August,” Bruffy said. “We will be looking at seven-day-a-week service, starting earlier and running later — exact times yet to be determined.”
Board said the progress made on the project thus far is thanks in large part to the generosity of everyone from Mark Nesselroad and the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust, who first acquired the property, to various contractors and support service personnel who opted not to bill for their work.
He said Morgantown Community Resources is committed to following suit.
“Morgantown Community Resources is not here to make money. It’s here to provide dignity and hope and shelter and food. So that is our goal,” he said. “It’s very exciting. Lots of incredible things are happening here.”