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Sale closes on Hancock County stadiums

December 28, 2012
Morning Journal News

NEW CUMBERLAND-The sale of Newell Memorial Field and the old Jimmy Carey Stadium in Weirton ended as unceremoniously as it began.

Hancock County commissioners sent their payment of $400,000 for the stadium properties to the Hancock County school board late last week, as soon as the deeds were recorded with the county, Commissioner Jeff Davis said.

"That sale has been finalized, and it is finished," Superintendent Suzan Smith said.

School board President Jerry Durante said he signed the deeds last week. "I'm just glad that it's over," he said. "I'm sure that the commissioners will do the right thing. There's no question in my mind."

The deeds include the stadium properties and the surrounding acreage, including all surface rights and any oil, gas and mineral rights. The Newell property is 4.25 acres, and the Weirton property is about 10 acres.

Both are considered turn-key purchases, meaning the properties are ready for immediate occupation. The fencing, bleachers, lights and press boxes also are part of the purchase, according to the written agreement between the school board and the commissioners.

With the purchase, commissioners become responsible for the underground gasoline tanks at the Weirton location, including any remediation or abatement work that is necessary, according to the agreement. The Weirton stadium includes a maintenance building and a school bus parking facility.

Commissioners also are responsible for the demolition, salvage, maintenance or repair of the stadiums, depending on what they determine to be in the best interest of the county, according to the agreement.

The agreement gives the school district 36 months to vacate the Weirton maintenance building and its parking lot. The school board already has begun the process of moving the maintenance department to district-owned property behind the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center on state Route 2.

Davis said it's too early to say what will happen with the stadium properties, although commissioners have enlisted the help of the Business Development Corporation (BDC) of the Northern Panhandle to market the properties for economic development purposes.

"We haven't had time to discuss it. I'm sure we'll start working on some ideas in the early part of the year," Davis said.

The school board announced its intention to sell the stadiums as surplus properties in June. The Newell facility was sold at public auction on Oct. 25, but the only bid-$50,000 by Chester fire Chief John Hissam-was rejected as too low by the school board.

A second auction was scheduled for Nov. 30, but the school board canceled it after meeting with two Hancock County commissioners and BDC Executive Director Patrick Ford to discuss economic development opportunities.

The board's handling of the proposed sale drew opposition from some quarters, including people who believed the Chester Volunteer Fire Department was the best hope of keeping the Newell stadium in community hands.



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