By Julie Perine.
In May of 2016, representatives of the Clarksburg Mission approached Bridgeport City Council with a request for financial assistance toward the establishment of a sober living home in downtown Clarksburg. At that time, the home – intended for use by single women – was to be located on Lee Avenue on land that had previously been gifted to the Mission by the Isabella family of Bridgeport.
Lee Avenue intersects with Chestnut Street and runs parallel with Washington Avenue. The property that was being considered for the facility is in the vicinity of Washington Irving Middle School.
Clarksburg Mission Women’s Ministry Manager Chrissy Doak said at that time that the facility would house up to 20 women and children; a concept which was not only desperately needed but which no other city in West Virginia had pursued.
“There is no place like this where women can keep their children with them while they are going through recovery,” she told City Council in May of 2016. “Many women end up losing their children.”
The Bella (which means “beautiful”) House was estimated to cost $450,000 with an estimated $105,000 for annual operations. Once established, the facility would likely receive federal grant moneys for day-to-day operation.
The plan to establish the home is still under way, but according to Ben Randolph of the Clarksburg Mission, there has been a possible shift in location.
“Due to cost restraints in building new, we decided to look at purchase,” he said. “We haven’t given up on Lee Avenue either, but for now we are looking at the purchase, which would help twice as many people at less than half the cost of building new.”
That proposed site is a pair of large Victorian homes at 187 and 189 East Pike Street; one which would potentially house the single women and children and the other which would be utilized as a men’s facility.
But that potential change of plans has many area residents concerned. Included is a family closely associated with Notre Dame High School, located at 127 East Pike Street.