By C.V. Moore
MOUNT HOPE —
The City of Mount Hope has submitted paperwork officials hope will allow it to move forward on the demolition of a historic school downtown.
Mount Hope is in the middle of a $1.5 million demolition project that will bring down a number of “blighted structures” in the town’s historic district. That includes a brick historic school in the center of town, built around 1925, that sustained fire damage in 2006.
The West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office considers it a “contributing resource” to the historic district and, last November, submitted comments to the town and asked for more information on the city’s plans.
An official from the Region IV Planning and Development Council, which is acting as the town’s pass-through agent for the federally-funded demolition project, reports that a draft memorandum of agreement (MOA) has been submitted to the Preservation Office regarding the school.
Consultants prepared the draft MOA with Preservation Office’s guidance, according to Lesley Taylor of Region IV. She told council that she expects that the agency will allow the town to proceed, but for now the project is in a holding pattern.
The MOA will require the town to fulfill certain obligations — such as mitigating the loss of the building by erecting historical markers — before it is given clearance to demolish the school.
Taylor says the proposed mitigation projects total $130,000.
The town has submitted other MOAs to the Preservation Office for six other residential structures in the historic district.
At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, council authorized the city treasurer to sign the MOAs as an official of the city. Taylor says the mayor cannot sign because he is also the chair of the town’s Historic Landmark Commission.
In other Mount Hope news, a 30 percent sewer rate increase passed unanimously at council on Tuesday. It will raise the minimum monthly charge to $23.11. Customers with water usage of 4,000 gallons will pay $44.10 per month.
This is the second year in a row that the town’s audit found the need for a rate increase.
The town considered 10, 20 and 30 percent options and chose the latter.
“We’re losing ground and we’re losing ground,” said Martin.
“The 30 percent still does not get us where we need to be, but it gets us a lot closer.”
Pentree Engineering reports the waterline extension to the Summit Bechtel Reserve is finished, and the water tank is complete.
The city has moved on to a water plant overhaul that will replace pumps, controls, and valves at the city’s municipal water facility. This is the third and final phase of the project, awarded to Orders Construction.
Replacing the old pumps will allow more water to be pumped per day and increase the system’s reliability, says Zane Summerfield of Pentree Engineering.
“It’s like we’re replacing the motor before it goes out on us. (...) We’re doing a complete maintenance overhaul of the facility,” he said.
The City of Mount Hope will be selling water to the Boy Scouts of America.
The council passed two resolutions to release payments to Region IV Planning and Development Council for the BSA water line extension ($160,177) and the Neighborhood Stabilization Project spot demolitions ($77,855).
Mount Hope will soon form a new Parks and Recreation Commission to oversee the city’s playing field, basketball court and other rec facilities.
“I would like a commission to take a little better look at how we handle these facilities, what we do and what we’re going to do to keep them whole for the future,” said Martin.
“There is bad need of work at the football stadium. The community center is in bad need of work. We can look at those things and make plans.”
The mayor, the town recorder and three other people will be appointed to the commission.
The city’s comprehensive plan finally landed on council member’s desks Tuesday.
An upcoming planning commission meting will begin the next phase of the project, which will ultimately finish with the presentation of the plan to council for acceptance.
Before that happens, the community, planning commission and others will have a chance to weigh in.
Finally, the town passed next year’s budget, which totals $665,178. It includes a 5 percent pay increase for all non-elected officials.
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