WVU-P receives Erickson lot

PARKERSBURG – West Virginia University at Parkersburg has taken possession of a grass lot along Seventh Street and plans to work with the city to create additional parking.

Jamie Six, chairman of the college Board of Governors, said members voted Wednesday to accept a donation of the lot behind its downtown campus from the Erickson Foundation.

The transfer has been in the works for some time, Six said. Wednesday’s vote marked the formal acceptance.

“They prepared the deed, recorded the deed and we officially have ownership,” he said.

The board has asked President Marie Foster Gnage and the administration to talk with the city about options and joint usage for parking, Six said.

“Our main goal is parking for our students,” Six said. “As a board, we would like to see the most use out of that property.”

Mayor Bob Newell said the city will work on a contract with WVU-Parkersburg where the city will build and maintain a metered lot.

“It is public, transitional parking that serves the upper Market Street area.” Newell said. “Initially, it will be a metered lot, but our ultimate goal – if we can get the grants – might be an opportunity for future expansion.”

He noted city council will have to approve the idea.

In 2011, officials scuttled a proposed parking lot swap that included the grass lot.

City officials were hoping to swap short-term parking spots on Avery Street in exchange for the undeveloped lot at Seventh and Juliana streets. The city planned to develop the grass lot for parking to accommodate students at the new downtown campus.

When the matter came before council, more than a dozen residents and business owners – concerned about the possible loss of short-term parking on Avery Street – attended the meeting to oppose the idea. Despite assurance from Charles Erickson, the would-be owner, the lots would remain metered business owners were unconvinced. Erickson requested the proposed swap be scuttled.

“We went back and talked with Erickson after that, and encouraged him to keep in mind that parking was needed,” Newell said. “He (later) came back and said he would give that to the college.”

“We are honored Erickson saw fit to donate it to us with our downtown campus,” Six said.

Six said as the downtown campus grows so too will the need for parking. The lot could be something as simple as metered parking lots monitored by the city or a parking garage.

“It is a blank piece of canvas,” Six said.