MORGANTOWN — About two months after ballooning costs and public pushback prompted an 11th-hour decision to bail on a $15 million overhaul of the Morgantown Ice Arena, BOPARC is back at the drawing board.
During the recreation commission’s recent regular meeting, Executive Director Melissa Wiles said that while the timeline isn’t set, BOPARC would like to have an architecture and engineering firm under contract this summer to restart the ice arena project.
Once that firm is selected, “then we’ll get into talking about ‘Here’s what we would like to see. Here’s what we feel like we can afford, etcetera, etcetera,’” Wiles said.
According to Wiles, multiple firms have expressed interest, including Mills Group, the firm hired in December of 2017 to helm the first go-round.
But things look to be different this time around. For example, there will potentially be a parallel ice rink project in play.
As part of February’s decision to reject the bids in hand for the long-awaited Morgantown Ice Arena renovation, it was announced that Mylan Park would explore the construction of a new rink that could better suit the competition-focused goals of user groups like the Morgantown Hockey Association and WVU Hockey, while BOPARC would explore improvements aimed at community recreation.
“We’re going to visit two or three facilities close by this month,” Mylan Park Foundation President Ron Justice said.
“We have a general idea of what the cost of a one-slab facility or a two-slab facility would be. But what we’ve got to pin down is what the operations side of it is. So far, there’s nothing that has really alarmed anyone, but I think visiting some existing facilities will be a good chance to get a little better understanding of the do’s and don’ts when you’re building this kind of facility.”
Justice, who spent 20-plus years on BOPARC’s Board of Directors, said that while both BOPARC and Mylan Park aim to make recreation facilities available to the public, they’re different animals with different missions, different funding structures, and in this instance, different target markets.
“I think maybe we’re better equipped to go after the competitive market whereas BOPARC is better focused on community events and recreation and those types of things,” he said. “But we’re going to continue to have that dialogue with them. I do believe there’s a lot of synergy and a lot of opportunity to bring people together, so I’m very optimistic about it.”
BOPARC member and Morgantown Mayor Jenny Selin said once BOPARC selects a route forward — be it renovations to the existing facility or otherwise — it needs to follow through, adding “What I want for us is a slab of ice.”
“We have an aging facility with aging parts and I have real concerns that every year, every half-year, every few months we keep it open without renovating it or changing out the equipment, that at some point we won’t be able to deliver ice,” she said.
“I would be for, as one member of this board, looking for a course of action and then, no matter who shows up and says they want or don’t want a given element on a given day, we stay the course and complete the rink.”