School board will take over soccer field
The Morgan County School Board approved the temporary transfer of the county-owned soccer field at its October 2 meeting so it can be eligible for a $200,000 brownfields clean-up grant.
A last-minute paperwork issue found the county commission ineligible to apply for the brownfields grant, school board vice-president Aaron Close said.
The Morgan County Commission has been working with brownfields specialists toward funding site remediation at the 9.9 acre Alex Rickli Memorial Soccer Field Complex property across from the U.S. Route 522 ball field complex south of town.
Previous owners of the property or anyone that had something to do with the land could not apply for the grant, Commission President Stacy Dugan said. The school board qualified.
The school board’s action was a 4-0 vote on the sale. Board member Eric Kidwell was unable to attend the meeting.
The Morgan County Commission voted unanimously at their Thursday meeting to approve the land transfer, Dugan said.
Both the school board’s and the county commission’s motions were pending on a drafted agreement between the commission and the school board, which is in progress, Close said.
The soccer field would be sold to the school board for a dollar, Close said. The school board would sell it back to the county for a dollar after the brownfields grant had been administered. If the grant funding doesn’t materialize, the property would revert back to the county.
Property still closed
The soccer field has remained closed for several years since glass shards, metal and plastic pieces from crushed vehicles and higher arsenic levels were found in the soil. More than 300 tires had also been removed from the land, which was once an automobile salvage yard. It had previously been an orchard.
A Phase I environmental site assessment was completed earlier. A more detailed Phase II environmental site assessment by Triad Engineering is in progress with a planned completion date of October 31. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection paid the $45,000 cost of the Phase II assessment.
The Phase II assessment will indicate the extent of the site contamination, what remediation needs to be done and the available cleanup alternatives, Close said. They were told during the initial assessment that $200,000 should cover the work that needs done.
No cost to school board
There are no plans for any school board expense with the land transfer or administration of the grant, Close said.
The school board central office staff would work in conjunction with commission grant writer Carol York on the grant administration.
Recreation use favored
Close favored the land being used for community recreation after the clean-up with its proximity to the ball field complex instead of it becoming an industrial site for economic development. Close is also acting president of the Morgan County Parks & Recreation Board.
He asked the school board at their September 26 meeting to take action on buying the land so the grant application could move forward.
Director Patrick Kirby of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center felt that it would help their chances in the grant being funded if the school board agreed to take over the land as another community partner, Close said.
The deadline for the grant submission is November 19. The final deadline of the sale can be no later than November 17.
The clean-up grant will be awarded in May, 2013. If successful, funding for the clean-up should be available by late fall of 2013. Close hoped that the property could be ready for use for Morgan County youth by the spring or summer of 2014.
A public visioning workshop will be held to gather community input on what use the soccer field property should have.
The workshop is scheduled for Monday, October 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the Alderton-Dawson American Legion Post 60 in Berkeley Springs. The public is invited to attend. Food will be provided.
Ideas for the property’s use have included soccer fields, tennis courts, a multi-purpose recreation facility and baseball fields.