New track and aquatic center going up | Free

MORGANTOWN — Work continues on the Mountaineer Center Wellness Facility in Mylan Park, which will bring a new track, outdoor walking trail and aquatic center to Monongalia County.

The $40 million facility will be owned and operated by Mylan Park, with WVU purchasing a long-term lease. Ron Justice, president of Mylan Park, said Huntington Bank financed the project. However, he said it was a $15 million donation by the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust — its largest ever — that catapulted the project forward to the construction phase.

“That was the catalyst, when they made that donation, that we could move the project forward from a financing standpoint,” Justice said. “It’s a great community project. It took a lot of cooperation from various stakeholders to put this together. It’s really exciting.”

Justice said Mountaineer Center’s track is scheduled to open in September 2018. Included will be a walking trail around the facility more than a mile long. The aquatic center, which will include an Olympic-sized lap pool, diving pool with platforms and community recreational pool, is scheduled to open in December 2019.

Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom said the idea for the center began four years ago when he had a discussion with WVU’s then athletic director Oliver Luck in which WVU discussed the possibility of not allowing the public to use its outdoor track. The talk then shifted to how to satisfy everyone.

Bloom said Mountaineer Center will be an important asset for users of all ages from senior citizen water aerobic classes to young children learning how to swim. When the aquatic center is complete, Bloom said he would like to see a program in place where all kids in the county can learn to swim by they time they finish the fifth grade. He said the track will also help local high school athletic programs.

“Look at what UHS (University High School) and MHS (Morgantown High School) have done even without a track of their own,” he said. “They take first and second place in the state every time for track and field.”

Bloom said a deal has already been worked out in which the Mountaineer Center will host the Big 12’s swimming tournament every other year. In addition to local high school and collegiate athletics, He said Fairmont State University and Waynesburg University have expressed interest….

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