Granville Strikes It Rich
Expanded budget gives town ideal opportunity
Morgantown Dominion Post
19 July 2009
By Alex Lang
It's like hitting the lottery.
By annexing the land when the University Town Centre was built,
Granville's annual budget grew from $150.000 to $2.1 million this
decade. Early on, most of the extra money had to be spent on improving
services for the shopping center.
But, starting this summer. residents of Granville could see the
benefits of having a larger tax base. There are no more large purchases
to be made to maintain the center's infrastructure. and town officials
are beginning to focus on improving the look of Granville itself.
"I'm just happy to give back. Its feasible to start it now," Granville
Mayor Patricia Lewis said.
The first beautification efforts include creating a park neat' the old
CONSOL piers. Lewis said the town council has approved preliminary
plans for the park, but nothing is finalized yet. The town bought the
land after CONSOL closed in Granville.
Lewis said she hopes they can begin some initial work on the park this
summer and h a v e most of the project completed within two years.
Under the current proposal, the park would include a boat ramp for
fishing boats, a pier fora river taxi, picnic tables. pavilion areas. a
walkway along the river. and moving the town original war memorial from
the municipal building's attic to a town welcoming area.
Granville has budgeted $25.000 for the work this summer. Lewis said.
There is no estimate on the total cost because the project is still
early in the planning stage.
She added the town should be able to do some of the work, such as
paving, but other parts will still have to be put out for bid.
The river taxi is planned to go in at the park. Lewis said. But details
on how it would operate ain't be finalized until the dock is completed
and they have a place to dock the taxi.
The park would be the first of its kind. in this area. on that side of
the Monongahela River. Lewis said it will be nice for Granville
residents - and even Westover - to be able to walk to It riverside park
instead of having to drive across the river for one.
Morgantown and Star City have both created riverfront parks on the
banks of the Monongahela.
Granville Councilwoman Mary Beth Renner said there are few places close
to her town that residents can put a boat into the water for a little
Renner said the creation of the park might help kids stay out of
trouble by giving them something to occupy their time.
When you don't have things for kids to do. they are going to find
something." Renner said.
Even with the park in the planning stages. Lewis admitted the number
one project the city wants to complete is something else sorely needed
"Our next big project. even if we have to tackle it ourselves." Lewis
said. "is the sidewalks."
Much of Granville is without sidewalks. Those the town has are in need
of replacement or repair. Many of the residents walk around the town—
to the post office, the ball field or a friend's house, and having
sidewalks would provide them more safety. Side-walks would also improve
the aesthetic feel of the town. Renner said.
The sidewalks will make it easier for many of the town's elderly
residents to get around. Renner said. It will also give the town a
"nice. clean-cut" look.
Granville Town Council has been turned down twice for a Transportation
Efficiency Grant, Lewis said. Not deterred they have applied again.
Council also has applied for stimulus money to help pay for the
side-walk project. If the stimulus money is received. Lewis said she
believes the town has enough of its own money to pay its 20 percent
share of the total cost. Then, she said. Granville could do the entire
sidewalk project and fix all the sidewalks in one swoop.
Lewis said the town estimates the entire sidewalk project would cost
81.5 million. That number could change. however, once they have a
better idea of the condition of the storm drains.
The town will take any money they can get through the stimulus to help
their sidewalks. Lewis said. If they get the full amount needed, the
town would have to put up $300.000 to secure the grant. The project is
so large and complex that Lewis said it will have to be bid out. If the
stimulus money doesn't come through. Lewis said they will look at
working on sections of Granville sidewalks as early as next summer.
hinds gathered from taxes from the town center would be used. However
town officials would only be able to approve the work in sections they
could pay for up front. In addition to adding or repairing sidewalks,
the town would also repave streets and replace storm drams. Lewis said.
They could do all the work at once instead of completing a portion of
paving and then having to tear it up to put in new storm drains.
Renner said she would only want to have it taken care of all at once
because if they only fixed one aspect of the roads at a time, it would
end up costing more money in the end.
"That's just throwing money in the garbage," Renner said.
Finding the funds
The town hasn't been able to focus solely on its residents because
it had to pay for support for the town center. Lewis said. She added
that even though services such as an increased police presence and snow
removal were needed for the center, they have benefited the residents,
Since the University Town Centre opened. Granville has been required to
build infrastructure to support the shopping district. In addition,
more staff has been hired to meet demands. Eleven more police officers
have been hired since the center opened in 2005 and more cruisers have
been purchased, Lewis said. Before the shopping center. Granville had
one full-time police officer.
They also have hired two full-time staff to work in the municipal
building. The town also has six employees who work in the street /
All of the town's employees receive full benefits including health
coverage. paid sick days and paid vacations. among others.
Lewis said this was something she told employees she would get them
when the town had the money With the shopping center, she was able to
fulfill her promise.
Lewis said the town doesn't plan to hire more officers or employees
anytime soon because they are running out of space to house them and
don't need them to run Granville.
They have been able to add so much staff because of the windfall in
Business and Occupation taxes from the town center, Lewis said. The
B&O taxes have increased the town's budget by nearly $2 million.
Lewis said she recalls many sleepless nights when she was trying to
figure out how the town was going to be able to fund everything and
provide for the residents.
But. then the town "hit the lottery" when it annexed the property the
center would be built on.
From that point, the town budget has grown 14-fold, and those
sleep-less nights are less frequent.
Earlier in the decade Granville had to spend the money to beef up its
support for the center. Lewis said. But, residents have seen a benefit
from that as well. The town now has 24-hour police protection, a second
snow-plow was purchased and now they will see different beautification
projects in their town.
The town center has given to us," Lewis said. "Now we can give to the
Lewis admitted that some Granville residents probably feel it took
a bit too long for them to see the outcome from the money gained from
the shopping area, but they will soon be able to see those results.
"We told people from the beginning," Lewis said. "We told 'em it would
be five years before they start to see any improvement on the town."
Construction on stores began in 2004. and the first ones opened in
Granvfile resident Bob Rice said he doesn't understand why it is taking
so long for the residents to see the benefits of the shopping center.
The sidewalks have been this way for years." Rice said. "At what point
do you suck it up and pay for it?"
Granville should fix its roads and sidewalks before putting in the
park. Rice said. He added he knows the town wants grant money to fix
the sidewalks, but feels the process is taking too long.
Rice was a losing write-in candidate for mayor during the last election.
Since the center has gone in, Rice said the locals have seen very
little change in their small town.
The residents have seen no difference in the amount of services. he
But. town resident and business owner Bill Kun disagrees. He said the
street sweeping has been great for the town and he sees them out
Kun owns Bubba's Garage, along Main Street in Granville, and has lived
in the town for more than 40 years. He said any improvements the town
is planning are a good thing.
"Green it up," Kun said. "Make it look nice."
Kun said that the sidewalks should be put in as soon as the town can
afford them, even if it means they have to go block by block. He
recalled replacing his sidewalks 17 years ago and it took him less than
Because many of the older residents who used to keep their property in
pristine condition have died, Kum said he is happy the town is planning
to do some greenscape with the sidewalk improvements. He added that
this will help improve Granville's overall look.
Though he is happy a park is going in, Kun said there is no need for a
river taxi because he doesn't think anybody will use it.
With the projects being planned, Kun said he didn't know if it would
improve his business. His biggest problem is a lack of traffic and he
didn't know if beautification would improve the flow.
Granville resident Ella Mayle said it is nice that residents soon will
be able to sec the benefits of the shopping center in downtown
Granville. Mayle has lived in Granville for more than 20 years and said
it's nice the council is finally taking to the sheets to beautify the
"I think it's nice," she said. "It has always been dirty and dreary."
Because of years of having a coal plant in the area, Granville has
always had a bit more dirt than
other towns, Mayle said.
Even with the town's plans to beautify the area. Mayle said it's
important for residents to take personal responsibility. They need to
keep their homes and yards looking respectable as well.
Lewis said the goal all along was to be able to take care of their
residents. This summer they will start that process by helping to
spruce up Granville.
"We are so thankful for what we have." Lewis said. "And we're just
trying to take care of Granville"