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September 19, 2013

Mineral County seeks help from legislators for bridge project

State involvement needed for Carpendale plans

KEYSER, W.Va. — The Mineral County Development Authority asked local legislators for advice on how to move the Carpendale bridge project forward during a meeting Tuesday.

“There have been a couple meetings up in Carpendale now and I think what we would all like to see at all levels of government is an interest in making a commercial park and bridge happen up there,” said Dave Boden, president of the authority. “What do we need to do as a development authority at this point to move that to the next level?”

Sen. Dave Sypolt questioned if anyone had been in touch with the West Virginia Development Office. Someone from the state development office has visited the site, according to Delegate Gary Howell.

“That’s absolutely the place you need to be because that’s a state level project,” said Sypolt. “A local economic organization is not going to have the clout to make that happen.”

Howell suggested filling the park ahead of time by contacting businesses that might be interested in locating there.

“It makes it much more easy to come up with the funding for that,” said Howell. “That is something you can do on a local level. It’s not that hard to pick up the phone and make those phone calls.”

Sen. Bob Williams agreed with Howell.

“You’ll never sell that project as a commercial park until you have some commercial businesses who have committed to locating there,” said Williams. “We have industrial parks sitting idle all over the state of West Virginia, including Mineral County. We created this land and build these shell buildings with the concept we will build it and they will come. They haven’t come. There has got to be certainty that there is going to be something there sitting at the other end of the bridge besides an empty field.”

Butch Armentrout, mayor of Carpendale, stressed that nothing is going to happen until the bridge is built and that U.S. Rep. David McKinley had suggested getting the project on the high priority list. The bridge would also help to alleviate truck traffic in the area, according to Armentrout.

“The project has been going very well thanks to everybody in this room that has had a hand in it,” said Armentrout.

Sen. Craig Blair suggested filling it with industries that could pay a living wage.

“If you get that target that’s interested, that’s when you come to me or come to the state and say, look, let’s get the state involved,” said Howell. “Let’s see what benefits the state can offer that the county can’t offer to make this happen to fill this park. They want to see this succeed, too. We all want to see this succeed. That’s one of the important things that we work together as a team and don’t go off in our own directions.”

Howell previously estimated that the bridge would cost anywhere from $3.5 million to $5 million. Money for the project could possibly come from Industrial Access Funds, which would fund up to 10 percent, as well as the West Virginia Development Office, Mineral County Development Authority, West Virginia Department of Transportation and the remainder could come from a Tax Increment Finance district, Howell said previously.

“The nice thing about this project is Mineral County can have skin in the game through TIF financing,” said Howell. “Being a railroad property it pays no tax and once it’s sold it’s a 100 percent TIF district. It’s a rare occurrence that you get 100 percent funded TIF district, which makes this project much more viable.”

The proposed site is located on 300 acres of CSX property near Interstate 68. The bridge would span the Potomac River from Carpendale to Bowling Green.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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