At the conclusion of an approximately three-hour session at the New Martinsville City Building Feb. 20, city council did not reach a decision on the two major issues at hand-a business and occupation (B&0) tax increase and a miniature golf course project at Bruce Park.
Starting at 5 p.m., the New Martinsville Parks and Recreation Commission gave a presentation on a project to upgrade the miniature golf course at Bruce Park. Engineer Gabe Hayes presented his plans for the rejuvenation of eight of the first nine holes and the replacement of the other 10 holes.
Hays explained, "It is required that half the holes be (handicapped) accessible." said Hays. "You cannot make any improvements to a facility without making it accessible."
Members of the New Martinsville Parks and Recreation Commission and architectural consultants Gabe Hays, Eric Barto, and Gus Kayafas stand with the scaled map of the proposed Bruce Park Preliminary Master Plan during a public meeting held Feb. 17, 2011. Pictured from left are then Mayor Lucille Blum, Harold McClain, Bruce Crawford, Jodie Michaels, Parks and Recreation Director Beverly Gibb, Hays, Barto, Kayafas, and Dave Haudenshilt.
The plan calls for a modular approach which is a more affordable way to make the course attractive and accessible.
The commission asked the council to approve a loan for $250,000 for the project. The five-year loan is available locally for 2.25 percent or less and payments would be made through the city's share of the hotel and occupancy tax proceeds.
Commission member Whitney Clegg explained that "at the end of 2008, it really started to increase thanks to shale gas, basically." For the past two years the city has averaged $22-27,000 per quarter from the tax. "We would really like to take advantage of this while it's here," said Clegg.
"We believe there will be no problem in making this payment, improving the park, and moving on to another project," she added.
Jim Klug Excavating offered the winning bid for the project at $182,500. Parks and Recreation Director Beverly Gibb said the project would have an approximately $55,000 contribution from her department. "We're looking at doing as much of it in house as we possibly can," said Gibb.
Councilman Chris Bachman repeated said he would like to see the project presented in a public forum before the city spends that large of an amount of money.
Gibb said they had already held such meeting.
"I would add that we've done that twice. We've had two town hall meetings," said Clegg. "We're not asking for our residents to pay for this."
"We do have some time sensitivity as well. I would request a motion today." said Clegg. Commission Member Harold McClain made a similar request during the council meeting at the end of the evening. After some discussion, Mayor Keith Nelsen called for a vote with Councilmembers Steve Pallisco and Holly Grandstaff voting in favor of the project and the three other councilmembers present, Bachman, Iris "Deaner" Isaacs, and Kay Goddard, voting against the measure at that time.
A dejected Gibb asked, "So where do we go from here?"
Council said they wanted to know who would need to sign the loan and if a current council can encumber a future council. Then the matter will be brought up again at the regular meeting, March 4, 7:30 p.m.
The city's finance committee also held a meeting that evening that engaged several business people who were in attendance. The city is looking at a 20 percent increase in its B&O tax rate. After much discussion, the matter was tabled during the council meeting portion of the evening.
However, council did approve a 90-day spending freeze on unnecessary expenses. Items needed in the normal course of business can be purchased, but items that can be done without must be.
Council also tabled items relating to the city's municipal fee and insurance. No further explanation was given on these items.
Finally, Nelsen recently issued the following notice: Please call City Hall, 304-455-9120, and request to be put on the agenda at our Regular Monthly Council Meetings. We need to have your request and the subject you would like to speak about three business days before regular scheduled meetings.