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City will try again to auction off former Municipal Building

by Jim Fisher

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- City Council has decided once again to put the old Municipal Building on the auction block, only this time with no minimum bid required.

Walter Williams, counsel for the city's Municipal Building Commission, spoke to council at Thursday's conference session about the effort of the commission to either sell or renovate the vacant building.

The biggest problem, Williams said, is that the building has several restrictive historic covenants attached that spell out what can and can't be done with the building. The covenants are strings that came with federal money that was used to build the new Municipal Building, Williams said.

If the next sale is unsuccessful, Williams said, the city can go to the state Historic Commission and ask that the covenants be lifted as they are hampering efforts to sell or rehabilitate the building.

"If there had been any realistic possibility that someone would come forward who could do something with the building, I think it would have surfaced by now," he said. "Rather than let it sit unused for another year, I feel that active steps are needed to aggressively market or rehabilitate the building."

Council also heard reports from Dr. David Hughes and Alison Hanham of West Virginia University.

Hanham spoke about a study of Clarksburg conducted through the First Impressions program.

Hughes spoke about a business retention and expansion study and visioning of future use of downtown conducted through the WVU Extension Service.

Both spoke to council members about positives and negatives of Clarksburg, specifically downtown. Several options for revitalization and recommendations were presented.

Some of the recommendations, such as a unified vision of downtown, a concerted effort for revitalization and an effort to tie together historic areas with a common visual theme, already are being done by council.

Council also directed City Manager Tom Vidovich to issue $50 bonus checks to all city employees, with official ratification expected at the Dec. 20 council meeting.

Staff writer Jim Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at jfisher@exponent-telegram.com

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