Moundsville Still Considering Recreation Complex

After considering the impact of a proposed privately-funded recreation complex at Moundsville’s East End Park, city council’s policy committee agreed to continue exploring the opportunity.

In September, resident Eric Tucker approached council, seeking to lease land at the park for the complex, which would be located near the Four Seasons Pool and include basketball courts, baseball, soccer, and other indoor sports facilities.

Tucker said he had some leads from investors, and could begin drawing support as soon as the city gave the go-ahead.

On Tuesday, most Moundsville leaders voiced their support for the proposal, agreeing to submit to Tucker the terms of use of the park land.

“We’ll send them the requirements that were provided to the city when we took control of that land,” said Councilman Allen Hendershot. “Land use, if we’re going to transfer that for other purposes, what those prohibitions would be.”

Councilwoman Judy Hunt, who serves on the subcommittee, said she has spoken with representatives from Parkersburg about a similar facility.

“I did contact Connie Schafer, who’s on the board in Parkersburg, and I asked her about theirs. She said it’s been a very valuable asset to the community,” Hunt said.

“We definitely need something like that for Moundsville and for Marshall County,” added Ginger DeWitt.

Councilman Phil Remke, however, said he has spoken with representatives from several recreation boards from other cities in West Virginia that had implemented similar facilities who pointed out that a for-profit building would not be allowed to be placed at the park, due to the terms of the land use that require any facilities to be open for use by the public at no cost.

“That property was given for anyone to use. In other words, if that building was built, Joe Smith could walk in and play basketball,” Remke said. “From all indications, because they’re charging for pay-to-play, they’re not going to be able to do it, but I’ll let (City Attorney Tom White) discuss that with them.”

Hendershot said the exact nature of the facility has not been settled, and he believes the facility is not intended to be for-profit, but instead would return any revenue after expenses to investors, with any remaining funds going toward capital improvements.

White told Remke that he would discuss the terms of the land use with Tucker and his associates.

“It still may be able to be a (non-profit organization) and not profit from it, but still pay initial investors back. That’s not profit, that’s just return on investment. There may be a way to do that,” White said.

Hendershot and Councilman David Wood voiced their support for the proposal, saying that if done right, the complex could be a major boon for the city’s residents.

“It’s a good concept, if we can do it legally. We have to make sure that it’s all good. But we’re definitely interested in what it would provide for our community,” Hendershot said.

During his presentation to council in September, Tucker had said access to recreation is among the most crucial factors when attracting new employees to WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital in nearby Glen Dale.

Tucker is a member of the hospital’s board of directors.