Moundsville East End Park Property Comes With Strings Attached

There will be no shortage of legal hoops to jump through if Moundsville leaders want to provide land at the city’s East End Park for a privately funded indoor recreation complex.

Eric Tucker, representing numerous local businesses seeking to invest in the complex, first brought the idea before council in September. The matter was tabled until the legality of using the property could be determined.

During a meeting last week, City Attorney Thomas White said the East End property was purchased in 1972 through federal funds which dictate the city use the land for outdoor recreational activities, which stands at odds with the concept of an indoor facility.

“The proposal of the sports complex is obviously an indoor facility, so that’s a big problem,” he said. “When that happens, it’s called a conversion, and there is a way around that. You can get a waiver for a conversion, but it’s very difficult. … The killer and the kicker is, they won’t do it unless we would dedicate land of equal value from somewhere to replace that, and dedicate that to some outdoor recreation. That would be approved in this long process by not only the state office, but the federal office as well.”

Obtaining a waiver, White said, would require studies from several federal and state agencies on numerous factors, such as historic preservation agencies and environmental impact studies.

White said that despite exhaustive searching, he was unable to locate the original files related to the 1972 land purchase, but was able to determine that the city received $3.9 million to develop it at the time.

“If we permit this, we’re probably finding some land that’s worth $3.9 million — or God knows how much more than that today — to substitute that, for that to be approved,” he said. “If anyone wants to see this go forward, then some thought will have to be given to coming up with that.”

Councilman Phil Remke suggested allocating several parcels of land to comprise the whole amount.

“If it’s $3.9 million, that could be the whole kit and caboodle, and if they’ll let us separate it, that … could make it more enticing,” Remke said.

Council asked White to continue searching for possible options going forward. Rico Coville — recently hired as Moundsville’s new parks and recreation director — said he likes the idea behind the complex, but with no formal proposals finalized, he did not have much information on the arrangement.

Tucker, who serves on the board of directors at WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital, previously said one of the most common questions the hospital fields from potential hires is the availability of such recreational facilities.

The proposed recreation facility would include indoor facilities for sports such as basketball, as well as turf fields for softball, lacrosse and soccer.

The facility would be a for-profit venture which returns profits to investors, after maintenance and capital improvements are made.