Loan Sought For Complex

WHEELING – As city officials prepare to award construction contracts for the East Wheeling J.B. Chambers Recreation Park, they now plan to borrow up to $1.15 million from local banks to start work.

City Manager Robert Herron said the loan is needed due to funding commitments for the park that will be spread out over a period of time, such as that from naming sponsor, the J.B. Chambers Foundation, who will fulfill its $750,000 pledge in installments of $150,000 over five years.

Three ordinances up for first reading during council’s 5:30 p.m. Tuesday meeting at the City-County Building would authorize loans with terms of up to five years with borrowing not to exceed that amount in the form of five-year loans with Main Street Bank and Progressive Bank. The ordinances would also award two separate contracts related to the park to James White Construction of Weirton – including $1.52 million for a lighted, artificial turf field and $560,985 to replace and upgrade the former Elks Playground, for a total of about $2.08 million.

“The issue now is we have a very good bid, and we’re very close to our fundraising goals,” Herron said. “We have to get the Elks Playground back in order. Now is the time to move forward.”

Herron was unsure how much interest cost the city can expect to incur from the loan, though he expects to receive a favorable rate. If council approves the loan and construction contracts at its Aug. 6 meeting, work would begin later that month and finish up by this fall, officials hope.

City leaders have announced a total of $1.1 million in contributions from non-governmental sources, including $750,000 from the J.B. Chambers Foundation, $250,000 from Wheeling Hospital and $50,000 each from the Bordas & Bordas law firm and the Roy and Dorothy Chambers Foundation.

The city also plans to spend a total of about $560,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding for the Elks Playground portion of the project. The Tuesday meeting will open with a public hearing related to that expense, as City Council wants to shift some of the CDBG money it previously had earmarked for building demolition to the playground project.

Mayor Andy McKenzie previously said the city has secured other contributions which he will announce in the coming weeks, but said the city needs to raise between $200,000 and $300,000 to fully fund the project. Fundraising won’t stop there, however, as McKenzie said the city will seek additional money for ongoing maintenance of the facility, he said.