The Times West Virginian

November 20, 2013

URA board members assigned to potential projects within city

By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — The Urban Renewal Authority assigned board members to follow particular potential URA projects Tuesday. The projects were: Masonic Temple redevelopment, the Beltline redevelopment plan, Fire House Studios and the Market at Palatine Park.

Katherine Wyrosdick, director of planning and development for the City of Fairmont, said this was an important step as the URA moves forward.

“I think this would help focus our work. As things are progressing with a project, you are my go-to people, rather than the whole URA, or having to wait on a monthly meeting to update everyone,” Wyrosdick said to URA members.

“It’s also a way to help support the work of the URA because, absent a staff person who’s dedicated to the URA mission, it can be challenging to keep momentum going on projects,” Wyrosdick said. “We’re hoping this will help keep this momentum going.”

The projects are primarily being undertaken by the City of Fairmont through the planning and development office. Wyrosdick said that by assigning URA members to keep track of progress on these projects, the projects may be more likely to succeed.

“I really feel that all of these projects have a tremendous amount of value, and can happen if we have more resources attached to them,” Wyrosdick said. “And those resources need to be in the form of people being engaged to make sure that they come to reality and fruition.”

At the meeting, Wyrosdick also presented a document outlining what her office had created as a possible Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan.

Eventually, the city would like to apply to create a TIF district, primarily focusing on downtown and the riverfront. With TIF, any increase in tax revenue in the TIF district due to increases in property value goes toward further redevelopment of that area, potentially creating a snowball effect of increases in some property values leading to other properties also increasing in value.

“It’s sort of a revolving improvement fund,” Wyrosdick said.

Once the TIF district is created, the URA is one of the groups that could determine how that money is spent. Because there is a 30-year timeline for projects with TIF funding, Wyrosdick explained it would be better to limit the TIF district to a smaller area initially, and expand it if necessary.

The next URA meeting will be at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, in the City Manager’s Conference Room at 200 Jackson St.

Email Colleen S. Good at cgood@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.