WVU-P event center plan moving ahead

PARKERSBURG-West Virginia University at Parkersburg is continuing to move forward with plans to eventually build a National Guard Readiness Center/event center on its campus, the Board of Governors were told Wednesday.

The Board of Governors held its regular meeting Wednesday afternoon at the Downtown Campus along Market Street.

Joe Campbell, chairman of the Campus Development/Readiness Center Committee, told the board they have finalized the ground lease agreement with the National Guard for land that would accommodate the more than 57,000-square-foot facility that would be located near the old soccer fields near the Caperton Center.

Even as things continue to move forward, Campbell said federal money for the project might not be available to the National Guard until 2018-20.

“They think they might have a chance to fast track it,” Campbell said. ”We want to be realistic about it, but there would be an opportunity if it did become available.”

However, National Guard officials are urging the college to continue to move forward with the public portion of the building, which could be utilized for trade shows, conventions, theater productions and banquets. The space would eventually be used by the National Guard for drills and other functions.

The college has put aside $4 million of the projected $11 million it will take to build the public portion of the facility.

The National Guard has committed $1 million to the facility.

”We are still $5 million-$6 million short,” Campbell said.

Campbell suggested the college could bond a certain portion of that.

“If we bond $3 million then we would only be around $3 million short,” he said.

The college is hoping that someone in the community could donate money to the project and the committee would then approach governmental agencies, like the Wood County Commission, for the remainder.

The committee recently gave a presentation to the county commission on the project, but could not give an exact dollar amount it was looking at from the county.

“We believe this public facility will bring in tax money to the community from the hotel/motel tax,” Campbell said of his hope for the commission’s support.

For the last year, architects have been looking at the conceptual design work, cost estimates and other aspects. Campbell said they are trying to work it where once the money was approved, the Guard could add its parts of the project to what is already in place.

The Guard’s current location on Blizzard Drive no longer meets its needs.

“I don’t think there will be any chance of it not being funded,” Campbell said. “It is just when.

“(The Guard’s leadership) does not want us to wait. It is a partnership. If we can go ahead and fund this and get it put together, when their portion come back, some of that could be applied back on the money the college put forth.”

Campbell said negotiations would have to take place to work out those details.

“There is still a lot to work out,” he said.

There is the possibility the federal money might never be allocated.

Campbell said the National Guard committed $1 million to the project because Guard officials believe the money will be allocated to complete it.

“This is why we think it is good,” he said. “The 1092nd always exceeds their recruitment goal.

“They have an excellent record and reputation. This unit is solid and around for a long time. Federal dollars are going to follow them and be there.”