City Council Approves Several Items of Business; Takes Indoor Sports and Recreation Complex Discussion into Executive Session March 11, 2019

During Monday night’s meeting, City Council entered executive session to discuss advanced planning of the city’s new Indoor Sports and Recreation Complex. Prior to that, Mayor Andy Lang announced that a public meeting will be held Monday, March 25 at Bridgeport Conference Center to reveal final plans for that complex.

Architect Richard Forren of Omni Associates will be present at the meeting and a video presentation will be shared. Recent Bridgeport High School state champion athletes will be honored at that same meeting and it is anticipated that excitement will be building for the complex for which construction bids will soon be solicited. The projected $41 million facility will include basketball courts, swimming pools, an indoor track and soccer fields, among many other amenities. The new state-of-the-art facility will be located adjacent to the Recreation Complex on Forrester Boulevard and is slated for a late-2020 opening.

Travis DeMoss of Masonic Late Lodge 63 approached the city’s governing body this evening, asking if the fraternal organization could lay the cornerstone for the complex.

“It’s been a longstanding tradition of the masonic fraternity to lay the first stone for public buildings with an elegant cornerstone ceremony, open to the public,” DeMoss said. “Placed inside would be a time capsule containing artifacts pertaining to the construction period of the building.”

Someday in the extended future, when the building’s life has expired, DeMoss said the cornerstone and time capsule would be opened during a public ceremony as history is opened before the eyes of those community members.

“It’s an opportunity to share with future generations a historic era of our community,” he said. “It is the best interest of our community and the government of this city to afford this opportunity to future generations of one of the greatest cities in the state of West Virginia.”

DeMoss said Masonic Late Lodge 63 has laid cornerstones for many of Bridgeport’s public buildings.

Council voted at Monday night’s meeting to allow the fraternal organization to lay the cornerstone and will coordinate details with the Masonic Lodge.

Council also passed by unanimous vote a $28,000 façade improvement grant for Cava and Banko, PLLC. City Manager Kim Haws said it was the Bridgeport Development Authority’s recommendation to award that grant to improve the aesthetics of the city’s downtown area. Mayor Andy Lang commented that the façade improvement grant program has been very beneficial to the city in that regard.

Another agenda item requiring vote was a resolution authorizing acceptance of the Fair Housing Plan of April 2019 prohibiting discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status and disability. It is illegal, Mayor Andy Lang said, to deny housing to any person because of those reasons. In accordance with the resolution, a poster will be displayed at City Hall and City Manager Kim Haws will inform city employees of the city’s support of the resolution and it will be posted at public places and advertised. Any occurrences adverse to the Fair Housing Plan are to be reported to Haws who would then forward them, within 10 days of the complaint, to the West Virginia Human Rights Division.

As explained by City Clerk Donna Krivosky, it was necessary to reapprove ballot commissioners for the June 11 municipal election. Carole Kinard will replace Lisa McKitrick as the democrat commissioner and Kevin Musgrave, who was previously approved, will serve as republican commissioner.

During Haws’ City Manager report, he announced that Mayor Lang and city staff are working on a resolution of the drainage problem along Route 50; a problem which sends water rolling down the highway during and after significant rainfalls.

“There’s been a breakthrough as the Division of Highways is finally seeking a study on that project,” Haws said. “This is the most promising news I’ve heard in a long time regarding that project.”

Haws also announced that the city’s zoning appeals board is looking for members and asked to be advised of any volunteers or recommendations for that board. He also said there will be a spring cleanup day with Waste Management. Although exact dates have not been set, it will likely take place during the first couple weeks of May. Haws also said the names of three new police hires have been submitted to the West Virginia State Police Academy.

“They were not accepted in the April class, so we are hoping they get into the July class,” he said. “It’s hard to get officers in for the training they need.”

Matthew Keith of Pennsylvania Avenue addressed Council during the public comment portion of the meeting, asking that the city consider lowering the speed limit on Pennsylvania Avenue and possibly other residential streets. The speed limit is currently 25 miles per hour, the same as it is on Main Street. With on-street parking, disruption of sidewalks and many pedestrians – both adults and children – out and about on a regular basis, it is a dangerous situation, Keith said.

During the awards and presentations portion of the meeting, Lang read and presented Michelle Duez, Regional Philanthropic Officer with the American Red Cross with a proclamation dedicating the month of March as Red Cross month. Duez shared that during 2018, 393 units of blood were donated at city blood drives held at the Benedum Civic Center and Bridgeport High School. She thanked the city for its ongoing support and reminded the public that in addition to blood services, the American Red Cross provides international services, armed forces support, disaster relief, preparation and training, among other types of services.

The meeting opened with a moment of silence honoring community member Melinda Duke Lindsey who passed away unexpectedly March 6. Council Member John Wilson said that Lindsey – a highly-respected mother, grandmother and wife to former Councilman Chuck Lindsey – provided constant enthusiastic support to the city through work with National Night Out, Light Up Night and the Derek Hotsinpiller Fallen Stars 5K, among other efforts. After the moment of silence concluded, Rev. Jim Lang of Bridgeport United Methodist Church provided the invocation, followed by the pledge to the American flag.