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Morgantown looking for grant dollars to assist with ice arena project

MORGANTOWN — The city of Morgantown is hoping West Virginia’s Land and Water Conservation Fund can help cover a portion of the estimated $10.5 million needed to overhaul BOPARC’s Morgantown Ice Arena.

As a part of Tuesday’s regular meeting, Morgantown City Council authorized City Manager Kim Haws to apply for $1 million in grant funding.

Haws said it would likely be next spring before the state began making awards.

The city has said a portion of the project cost will be bonded against BOPARC’s allotment of future revenues generated by the city’s 1% sales tax, which took effect in July 2020.

Sales tax revenue is divided evenly four ways between BOPARC, the city’s retirement fund, capital escrow budget and general fund.

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

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

Mayor Jenny Selin, who also serves as BOPARC president, said the West Virginia Land and Water Conservation Fund would be a helpful and fitting addition to the funding package.

“Part of why this is so cool is because the first ice rink – the ice rink that’s there right now – was paid for with land and water conservation funds,” she said.

BOPARC Executive Director Melissa Wiles has said the aim is to begin construction on the ice arena the spring of 2023.

In other news, City Clerk Christine Wade said the city currently has 34 vacancies on its volunteer boards and commissions.

The openings run the gamut from BOPARC to the city’s board of zoning appeals to the ward and boundary commission, which has seven vacancies.

Wade explained that information on the available openings as well as any necessary residency requirements and an online application is available on the city’s website,

“It’s just really important that folks put their input into what’s happening in the city,” Councilor Ixya Vega said. “If you have an interest and want to get involved and don’t really know how, our commissions are the best way to do it.”

Also on Tuesday, council approved a pair of purchases, a Case Skid Steer for the city’s engineering and public works departments at $57,687.25, and an aerial lift for the Morgantown Municipal Airport at a cost of $44,740.60.

Lastly, during the public portion of the meeting, Michael Callen asked council to reject a proposal from the Morgantown Human Rights Commission to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, calling the effort “highly divisive.”

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