WVU-P needs $9M to fund portion of center

PARKERSBURG -If West Virginia University at Parkersburg is going to partner with the West Virginia Army National Guard to create a multipurpose facility, college officials need to come up with $9 million.

The WVU-Parkersburg Board of Governors got a first look at conceptual plans for the National Guard readiness center Wednesday evening. The project is a collaborative effort between the Guard and the college with Phase I to be the construction of a $13 million joint-use area.

The National Guard has a little more than $4 million available for the project. The college has to come up with more than $9 million.

A capital campaign has been launched and officials are looking at a variety of ways to raise the money, Joe Campbell, a member of the board, said.

“The $9 million is the public portion,” he said. “That’s what we have to come up with here. That’s our challenge.”

The multi-use facility can serve as an event and convention center for the college, hosting athletic events, banquets and trade shows. It will also house kitchen and storage facilities and classrooms. The facility is projected to seat as many as 3,500 people and encompass almost 58,000 square feet.

The features represent the result of meetings held last year with various officials regarding wants and needs for such a facility in the area, Campbell said. The meetings sought input from anyone who might have use of the facility: school, tourism and economic development officials, Campbell said.

“We gathered up what they wanted and would like to see in a facility and then went back to the Guard and the architect,” he said. “And that’s where we came up with the designs.”

Now school officials have to come up with the money.

It’s unlikely the state will provide funding for the project given WVU-Parkersburg is facing a possible 7.5 percent reduction in state allocations this year, Campbell said.

Some money is set aside by the college, Campbell said. Bond options are also available to assist with funding and representatives also plan to meet with the Wood County Commission, he said.

Consultants have been hired to assist with the capital campaign, which has already engaged in a “silent” phase. The campaign won’t be solely to fund the Guard project, Campbell said.

“This will also go for scholarships and building programs for the college itself,” he said.

Project engineers will be on-site today to take core samples, Campbell said. The site preparation will be done shortly thereafter; however, construction on the facility won’t start until 2014 provided the funding is in place.

“We won’t do it on betting we will have it,” Campbell said. “We will have to have it in hand. We realize we will have to raise it by capital campaign, reserves or bonding capacity. If we don’t step up to the plate, we can’t ask others to do that.”