MORGANTOWN — The WVU Health System wants the property upon which the Monongalia County Health Department sits, and the Monongalia County Commission is willing to have that conversation … again.
WVU Health System President and CEO Albert Wright explained during a Wednesday work session that the opening of the new WVU Medicine Children’s facility in the coming months will signal the start of a new phase of development.
That development is going to require property. The Monongalia County Health Department and WIC program inhabits two old buildings on county-owned land neighboring WVU’s Health Sciences campus.
“So I guess my ask today, and I know we’ve had these conversations, but how can we engage in a meaningful conversation about is there an opportunity to relocate those services off campus somewhere that’s acceptable for the public health department that allows us to get at a fair market value for those properties,” Wright asked.
Wright clarified that the health system’s interest is primarily in the MCHD and WIC properties and not so much the nearby parcel where the Monongalia County Youth Services Center is located.
He also said WVU and WVU Health System would likely be acquiring the former Mylan Pharmaceuticals plant by the end of March.
Commission President Tom Bloom said WVU came to the commission twice previously with an interest in the county’s property but could never make an offer that would prompt the relocation of the health department. Wright noted those efforts were led by his predecessor.
“We understand the buildings aren’t what you want, it’s the property. But we then, like Sean [Sikora] said, have to get [MCHD] up and running somewhere else. And we don’t want to lose a lot of time,” Bloom said. “I have mixed feelings. If you really want to work and negotiate … we’re very interested. I think this would be a great time to really consider it. But I’m going to be very honest, it has to be a realistic negotiation because the last two, we’ve done the studies and evaluations, and I’m tired of doing it.”
The work session resulted in an agreement to form a working group with representatives of the MCHD, the commission and WVU to figure out what the health department needs and how much it will cost to give it that in a suitable new location.
“If we are going to pay greater than fair market value, I think we’ve got to be able to tell the whole story. That hey, in order for the health department to relocate, this is where they’re going and this is what it’s going to cost,” Wright said. “I think the whole story is necessary to have it make sense.”