The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

May 15, 2013

Former Mount Hope man invites city government to engage in sports tourism

By C.V. Moore
The Register-Herald

MOUNT HOPE — A former Mount Hope resident says the town and the region are ripe to develop a sports tourism industry, given the potential of a unique stadium and gymnasiums at the YMCA building and the former Mount Hope High School.

Stewart Payne, a graduate of Mount Hope High School who now lives in San Diego, delivered a presentation to the Mount Hope town council on Tuesday evening that explored opportunities to take a small cut of a multi-billion dollar industry.

“Your main regional gap, as I see it, is sports tourism,” said Payne, who owns PDQ Fitness & Sports, a sports programs provider.

Sport tourism refers to attracting visitors to an area to either view or participate in a sporting event like a tournament, race, or series.

Payne suggested pooling resources with other cities in the region; starting a sports commission; and developing a funding plan to rehabilitate the city’s existing sports facilities.

He recommended rehabilitating current facilities like Mount Hope Municipal Stadium with a track, turf field, expanded concessions and seating, and a press box.

A first step could be hiring a consultant to create a build-out plan for around $15,000-$20,000, Payne commented.

Plus he advises building new amenities for soccer, baseball, and other sports, perhaps on lands vacated by the Dunloup Voluntary Floodplain Buyout.

For funding, Payne suggested federal and state sources, crowd funding, memorial bricks, naming rights, and advertising.

The town could also enter into an agreement with Oak Hill, Fayetteville, or Beckley that guarantees hotel bookings from tournaments in exchange for a percentage of the town’s tourism tax. Payne says such agreements are commonplace.

“You don’t currently have hotels so that’s the best way to start generating revenue right now using the assets you have,” he said.

They could also start a sports commission with surrounding towns, Payne said.

Mount Hope sees little benefit from the county’s whitewater industry, or other tourism, because it has few or no hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores.

“Maybe we can gain some traction with this,” said Mayor Michael Martin. “I appreciate what you have to say and I think there’s promise in what you have to say.”

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The City of Mount Hope has partnered with Kanawha Stone to bid on a contract to operate the sewer and wastewater at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

Kanawha Stone contacted the city’s mayor and proposed the partnership because the city has water and sewer operating licenses.

“They said, ‘We really need help to partner on this proposal. We’ll take care of everything else, you take care of water and sewer. And we’ll help you take care of water and sewer. We know how it works because we designed and built it,’” said Mayor Michael Martin.

The mayor did not consult council on the matter, he says, because “it was a fast and furious thing” that required putting together a proposal in about a week and a half.

“If we receive the contract, our share will be well, well worth our while,” said Martin.

He intends to raise the salaries of wastewater, water, and maintenance workers and hire two additional workers if the bid is successful.

With no questions or protest at a public hearing, a 30 percent sewer rate increase passed council on Tuesday.

It will raise the minimum bill of 2,000 gallons of wastewater per month to $11.56.

Zane Summerfield of Pentree Engineering reported that construction work on an overhaul of the town’s water plant has not commenced because the contractor is still waiting on parts.

They are scheduled to arrive on time.

A water line extension to the Summit Bechtel Reserve is complete.

Tanks have filled with millions of gallons of water, which the city plans to sell to the Boy Scouts of America.

The project came in under budget by approximately $41,000.

The town paid invoices of $89,509 for the water line extension and $25,086 for a Neighborhood Stabilization Program spot demolition project to the Region IV Planning and Development Council, which is administering the projects for the town.

Finally, a $10,000 invoice was paid to E.L. Robinson Engineering

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