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Marmet City Council OKs resolution for visitors’ center

By Clint Thomas, Metro Reporter

At its May 15 meeting at Marmet City Hall, Marmet City Council members discussed and approved a proposed resolution to begin construction of a visitors’ center.

Marmet Mayor David Fontalbert said the resolution was passed unanimously and permits him to pursue a lease agreement with the Meadows family who own the property where the visitors’ center will be erected. The facility will be located on W.Va. 61 (MacCorkle Avenue) at the Exit 89 interchange of the West Virginia Turnpike/Interstate 77.

Fontalbert said that, with enough business community support, the center will be a relatively low-cost project to complete and maintain.

“The deal is structured to have a year’s free rent for completing the building,” the mayor said. “The cost is in our materials and labor to complete the partiallly constructed building. After that, the lease would be on a year-to-year basis. Legally, we can’t obligate beyond one budget year -- no government entity can do that.”

After the first year of operation, Fontalbert said, the lease payments for the visitors’ center would be $500 monthly. The City of Marmet established a Convention and Visitors Bureau two years ago, and he said its involvement -- with business membership dues and other contributions -- should help defray most or all of the operating costs.

“We anticipate, with the newly formed CVB, to take on our rent costs. Hopefully, it’ll be cost free to the town after the completion of the building,” he said.

Fontalbert also anticipates the visitors’ center opening in the fall, as a destination complement to the expanding Hatfield-McCoy Trail system in the region. “It will be an in-house project, as far as labor,” he said of the center’s construction, “but our maintenance personnel have other responsibilities before it’s completed.”

The mayor said he plans to contact material suppliers from Home Depot, Lowe’s and 84 Lumber to “see if one of those would like to partner with us for the construction costs. Hopefully, one might like to join us, to minimize our costs.”

He said the visitors’ center should draw considerable tourist traffic, given the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system’s new proximity to Marmet.

“The trail will take a while to develop, being that it is so extensive; they have well over 30 or 40 miles of trail they have to prepare. In the meantime, we can prepare for that, and, with the knowledge that the trailhead will be there, we plan to pursue a mid-level hotel, such as a Hampton Inn or a Holiday Inn Express, to build here. Hopefully, we’ll be able to attract one of those entities and develop our restaurants and service providers around that hotel.”

Fontalbert said the facility will have a number of uses.

“Basically, we want to have something in place to exhibit the history of our town,” he said. “It’ll have a dual role. It’ll be kind of a mini-museum, a meeting place for attracting businesses and for our CVB. It’ll serve multiple causes and allow us to improve that small section of the area. It will be much more attractive once it’s completed.

“There’s very little downside. If the business community participates, it should be relatively cost free after the initial construction.

“We need to think a little outside of the box. We’re small, but we need opportunities such as this. We’re all excited about this,” Fontalbert said.


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