Clarksburg, Charles Pointe Win Grants

From staff and wire reports

CLARKSBURG -- The city of Clarksburg's funding request for a parking garage and the Charles Pointe funding request for a hotel and conference center in Bridgeport were winners Wednesday.

Both were cleared for millions of dollars in state Economic Development Grant Committee money.

Clarksburg's $10 million request for a parking garage and other downtown improvements was slimmed to about $4.4 million during a final round of cuts Wednesday afternoon.

Charles Pointe's $11.4 million request also was trimmed by the committee, to $6 million.

But officials from Clarksburg and Bridgeport seemed plenty pleased with the funding.

"That's fantastic," said Clarksburg Mayor Sam "Zeke" Lopez on learning of the parking garage funding. "That'll clear the block off and give us two stories. We'll be able to buy what we wanted, tear it down and get 200 parking spaces."

Clarksburg City Councilman Patsy Trecost also was optimistic.

"We're willing to take what's offered and we'll be more than appreciative," Trecost said, predicting more funding will be sought elsewhere. "This is only the beginning."

Kim Haws, Bridgeport city manager, had similar comments.

"We'll have enough between private income, city income and the grant to do the first phase of Charles Pointe," Haws said. If the money is not slowed by another lawsuit that has been threatened but not filed, Haws said infrastructure work can begin almost immediately.

The second phase of Charles Pointe, a $32 million proposal that would have built a new YMCA and brought a Salem International University project to Bridgeport, was turned down last week. However, Haws has said efforts to find alternative funding for that project will continue.

As a whole, local funding approved by the state Economic Development Grant Committee Wednesday closely mirrored that which was awarded in 2002 but nullified by the state Supreme Court of Appeals this May.

The primary local differences between the first and second parceling outs of a gambling-backed bond issue were the ouster of a $10 million West Virginia University research park and the absence of a $540,000 project from GlassWorks WV, LLC of Lewis County.

In the first case, the committee opted to instead fund the full $10 million request from WVU and the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, Inc. That medical-research effort can use the cash to leverage a $20 million federal grant for expansion.

In the second case, the factory went out of business before it got the chance to take a second shot at financing needed to pursue a new product line.

Following is a list of all projects approved by the grant committee. Area projects are shown in bold...

...Harrison: Charles Pointe conference center, Bridgeport, $6,000,000; Clarksburg parking garage, $4,358,500...