Bridgeport Council vote releases funds for recreation center

The Exponent Telegram

February 12, 2013

By Adam Tobias
Staff Writer

BRIDGEPORT – Apparently, the second time's the charm.

City Council on Monday approved a budget revision releasing almost $245,000 for various improvements to the Bridgeport Recreation Complex at Charles Pointe.

The motion was passed by a vote of 4-3, with council members Darrell Bowen, Melissa Matheny and John Wilson in opposition.

The spending measure failed at the previous council gathering because of a lack of a majority.

But Councilman Robert Greer, who was absent from that meeting, essentially made the tie-breaking vote Monday.

According to city documents, the $244,500 will be used to install an irrigation system for the multi-purpose field, bathrooms near the basketball court, a second ramp to the multi-purpose field and removable storm-grate covers for the drainage system.

The project also includes the extension of water, sewer and electric services.

About $123,000 of the total will come from hotel and motel tax revenues, Finance Director Monica Musgrave said.

The remaining portion will be paid for with $111,282 in general contingency funds and $10,586 in one-time business and occupation taxes, she added.

Recorder Mario Blount said he supported the upgrades because they will allow for more use of the $7.8 million facility.

"If we don't take water and sewer, and we don't take electric to the north end of that recreational complex, then we're inhibiting the growth of that recreation complex … I just think it makes sense," he added.

Councilwoman Diana Cole Marra said council would not be taking care of its investment if the multi-purpose field does not have an irrigation system.

But Bowen said he would rather use the money to pay down the $962,000 debt on the complex or address other needs in the city, such as repairing deficient roads or improving water supplies.

According to Bowen, council also has been informed of some possible future expenditures while meeting in several recent executive sessions.

"I see some real reason to be very conservative in the next couple of months until we identify, really, how these things are going to work out," Bowen added.

Also on Monday, council:

  • Unanimously approved a recommendation from the city's development authority to provide an economic development grant to the Cafaro Co., which is planning for a $5 million facelift to Meadowbrook Mall.

The city will reimburse the owners of the mall up to $75,000, which is 50 percent of the business and occupation taxes that will be generated from the renovations, according to City Manager Kim Haws.

The other half will be placed in an account that is specifically designated for future grants or loans, Blount added.

Haws said the restoration project will include new lights in the parking lot and improvements to the structure's façade, entryways and skylights.

According to Marcello Lalama, work is expected to start within the next 30 days.

  • Passed a resolution accepting the conditions of a contract between the city and the West Virginia Development Office for a $10,000 Community Participation Grant.

The money will go toward installing energy-efficient lighting in city-owned buildings, Haws said.