Morgantown to lay out financing plan for BOPARC's ice arena, Marilla Pool projects

Oct. 23—MORGANTOWN — An ordinance authorizing nearly $30 million in bond funding for recreation projects will get its first public airing when Morgantown City Council sits for its October committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday.

The ordinance is in support of BOPARC's long-awaited overhaul of the Morgantown Ice Arena and the creation of a new Marilla Pool complex.

"Bonds funding each project will be issued separately to coincide with the project start dates — March 2023 for the Ice Arena and June 2023 for the Marilla Pool, " City Attorney Ryan Simonton explained.

The cost estimate for the ice arena project is $10.4 million to $11.5 million. The cost estimate for the Marilla Pool is $9 million to $11 million.

The mechanism will be the same as bonds issued to finance the forthcoming renovations to Morgantown City Hall and future projects to improve the city's public safety building, Norwood fire station and public works garage.

The city will convey ownership of the property to the Morgantown Building Commission in exchange for the sale and issuance of up to $29 million in lease revenue bonds by the commission. Once the debt service on the bonds is paid off via lease payments from the city to the commission, the property deeds will return to the city.

The projects are being bonded against BOPARC's allotment of future revenues generated by the city's 1 % sales tax, which took effect in July 2020. BOPARC receives one quarter of the revenue generated by the sales tax.

Based on information provided by Morgantown Finance Director Kevin Tennant, the city has transferred $2, 244, 357 to BOPARC since the sales tax took effect. According to Tennant, higher than expected sales tax revenue has resulted in an additional $1, 505, 381 "earmarked " for BOPARC from fiscal years '21 and '22.

The city anticipates $2.2 million in sales tax revenue for BOPARC in the current fiscal year, according to Tennant, In addition, BOPARC was the recipient of $2, 425, 489 from the county-wide parks and recreation levy passed in 2016 and, thus far, $452, 600 since the renewal of that levy in 2020. The levy funds are to be used solely for the ice arena project.

The Morgantown Ice Arena began life in 1978 as a canopy over an outdoor sheet of ice.

The Mills Group-designed overhaul will essentially strip away everything but the building's skeleton—including the slab beneath the existing rink—and rebuild it with an additional 7, 000 or so square feet.

The rebuild will make the facility thermally efficient allowing the ice to be programmed year-round.

The Marilla Pool project will retire the existing 60-plus-year-old pool in lower Marilla Park and build a new pool complex at the location of the baseball /softball diamond in the park's upper section.

Design features including multiple pools and water slides, a splash pad, a lazy river, open air shelter areas and new restrooms and concession areas have been presented as part of the desired complex.

Earlier this month, BOPARC approved an $875, 000 contract with Thrasher Group for design and construction administration of the project.