The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

February 13, 2013

Mount Hope to demolish former middle school

MOUNT HOPE — The shell of Mount Hope’s old middle school will be torn down, the city’s mayor confirmed at a council meeting on Tuesday.

Demolition of the building through a Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) grant had been held up as the property owners, Mount Hope United Methodist Church, pursued a claim through their attorney that the dilapidated structure did not need to be demolished.

The city’s housing commission continued to pursue the project and the church eventually decided that the building needs to come down.

Approximately 12 other structures have also been added to the town’s NSP project.

The city is behind on the project and recently met with the Housing and Urban Development Office to explain why they aren’t farther along in spending the $1.5 million they received for the demo work.

Mayor Michael Martin cited environmental, historic preservation, and archeological clearances. He also said that gaining the cooperation of property owners can be challenging.

“Everybody wants 60 days to do this and that and the first thing you know a year has passed. We’re a little behind our time line but we’re working as fast as we can work,” he said.

A representative from HUD who was present at the meeting said that his agency takes some responsibility for the hold-up. He said administrators were waiting on a late December ruling about how to proceed with the school structure.

Council granted the mayor permission to sign off on invoices for the NSP demo work a week before the next council meeting so that he can bring the greatest number of invoices to the HUD office at an upcoming meeting.

Zane Summerfield of Pentree Engineering requested several change orders, addenda, and additional work orders related to the demo project, which Pentree oversees, and a water line extension.

Two change orders totaling $25,913 were approved for contracts related to a water line extension from the town to the Summit Bechtel Reserve. The first was to add a drain to a 500,000 gallon water tank constructed by Midatlantic. The second was for Chojnacki Construction Inc. and involved a change of materials from asphalt to concrete because asphalt was not available.

Pentree asked for a $9,500 budget increase for overseeing and administering the demolition of additional structures under the NSP grant.

Tristan Cleveland, a VISTA for the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, attended the meeting and made a presentation on the Beautification Tool Kit, “an idea book for high-impact, low-cost ways to make improvements in the appearance of communities.”

Cleveland discussed storefronts, beautification, signage, and other ways to encourage local tourism and business investment.

“Beautification is a simple step you can make to improve residents’ quality of life and make your town more attractive to business investors,” said Cleveland.

“I don’t need to tell you that the Boy Scouts are coming this summer, and this is going to be an excellent opportunity to introduce yoruself to the rest of the country.”

Cleveland says she will meet with any groups in surrounding towns to present and discuss the toolkit. She is reachable at 304-465-3720.

The complete toolkit is available online at www.nrgrda.org.

Other items taken up by council on Tuesday included the following:

- Two Governor’s Community Participation Grants were approved in the amount of $3,000 for street lighting and $2,500 for supplying tools to the Boy Scouts who will do community service in the town this summer.

- Council approved an assessment of $1 per resident for the Metropolitan Planning Organization, totaling $1,414.

- The city made its annual $1,060 donation to Mountain Transit Authority, which provides transportation to Summersville, Oak Hill, and the Crossroads Mall.

- Mayor Martin asked and received permission to use a city vehicle on city business.

— Email:  cmoore@register-herald.com

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