How Secure Is Morgantown Area Water?

An investigation of MUB is in order, or at least an independent review of MUB’s decision-making regarding area water supply, past, present and future.

MUB is spending about $50 million to build a new reservoir system, including placing part of the large pipe by digging into an “active” CERCLA (hazardous waste) site (White Park), which was once part of an oil tank storage depot that experienced massive spills never fully remediated. (Are there no federal inspections and permits required for CERCLA excavations?) MUB’s original and newly considered lines of dig all run next to the existing drinking water reservoir that MUB intends to continue to use in the CERCLA site. Furthermore, MUB either did not know or, worse, did not see as problematic that it had plotted its new pipeline to be dug through two former oil tank locations – not to mention through cherished witness trees and trail – in the active CERCLA site.

Furthermore, MUB has never moved its Mon River water intake away from either the CERCLA site or the cross-river Superfund site, or the Industrial Park, or the new gas fracking pads, also in the Industrial Park, which were fracked at the same time that cancerous bromide was tested for and found in the river, a disturbing correlation if not causation. (Bromide is cancerous when mixed with chlorine, in drinking water.)

So all-in-all, how safe and secure can Morgantown area water actually be considered to be? The river water intake siting is terrible. The threats around it are permanent. Why hasn’t the intake location long since been moved?

Astoundingly, it seems possible that MUB could have solved or avoided all of these problems, in two steps: 1) For $34 million (much less than the cost of the new emergency reservoir), MUB could have put a water intake in the Opekiska pool far upriver, far away from the CERCLA site, the Superfund site, the Industrial Park, and the new gas frack pads. 2) Additionally, at reduced cost, it seems that MUB could have built a reservoir on Joes Run very near a pipeline from an Opekiska intake. Such a reservoir along the river would have saved nearly all pipeline and right of way costs since it could use Opekiska intake pipeline. Being near the Mon River Rail Trail, such a reservoir could also have served as a trail and water park tightly linked to the rail trail.

A Joes Run reservoir and Opekiska pool intake, call it option Jopekiska. Did MUB ever study this potential option or consider it, to get area drinking water away from the highly threatening current locations? If not, why not?

Viable Jopekiska reservoir and intake sites would have upgraded MUB and its rate-payers to two water intakes, one each in different dammed river pools, and two reservoirs, each in different watersheds. Neither that new intake, nor reservoir, nor piping, would have been in, near, or through disturbed ground of a CERCLA site, Superfund site, Industrial Park, or fracking site. No CERCLA ground would have been disturbed, the consequences of which are presumably both unknown and unknowable, in regard to potential contamination of water and air and ground in White Park, all of which continues to be very much integral to the area’s current waterworks. MUB’s current highly threatening intake and reservoir sites could have essentially been abandoned, rather than seeing the continued use that MUB plans.

Incredibly, after spending $50 million, and reportedly increasing rates on customers by an average of nearly $22 per bi-monthly bill, MUB’s new reservoir and sole river water intake keep the entirety of MUB’s water supply in and near a CERCLA site, a Superfund site, an Industrial Park, and gas frack pads, when MUB might have been free and clear of it all. How is it possible that building an additional reservoir above an active CERCLA site was seen as more of a good idea than having a new primary water intake far away from the CERCLA site and the Superfund site and the Industrial Park and the new gas fracking pads, with a possible reservoir also in a free and clear watershed? Did MUB make a $50 million mistake with its rate-payer funds? A $100 million mistake?

Recent and past serious MUB mistakes, already admitted to by MUB head Tim Ball, make it clear that the decisions and leadership at MUB should be thoroughly re-examined to determine whether or not MUB has unwittingly done a grave disservice to area rate-payers and residents, to their finances, health, and environment.

Furthermore, the Morgantown City Manager, if not eligible to be a voting member of MUB, should be required to attend every MUB (board) meeting in perpetuity. Likewise a County Commissioner. Too much happens at MUB too quietly that’s of too great importance to the city and surrounds for Morgantown to not have its main set of eyes and ears close at hand.

This latest apparent MUB fiasco was preceded by Morgantown’s being blindsided by Haymaker Forest development plans, which unbeknownst to anyone else MUB knew all about, and also by MUB’s outrageous involvement in the Scotts Run PSD takeover.

Does MUB know what it is doing? Can MUB be trusted? Are the actions and inactions of MUB itself the greatest ongoing threat to the safety of area drinking water? Given MUB’s recent track record, these questions should not be avoided.

MUB head Tim Ball has backed down before in face of residents’ outrage, and properly so. Ball recently admitted that MUB made a mistake in plotting its route through White Park’s witness trees. However he has said nothing yet about the advisability of major digging in an active CERCLA site.

Similarly, in regard to the takeover of Scott’s Run PSD: Ball initially said that no monies would be available to expand services in the former PSD, post takeover. He reversed his decision after public outrage, by then promising additional services, though he continued to claim there was nothing amiss in the hit-and-run termination of the Scotts Run PSD just as it was on the verge of coming into millions of dollars from the impending area “Ballpark TIF” act. Tim Ball and MUB should be called to account once again, investigated, and be held responsible for any mistakes, a number of which now appear to be much larger than even those already admitted to by MUB.

Highway Robbery in Monongalia County

These 15 posts, written between December 2012 and July 2013, give a strong sense of the local politics pushing against the City of Morgantown, and provide context for many other local public issues covered on this blog, and otherwise. What happened as detailed in these posts, regarding University Town Center and Scott’s Run, etc, is to some degree analogous to what continues to happen between Mylan Park and many neglected neighborhoods and areas whether in city or county. 

The public needs to organize and better know itself and the local issues to move forward. (The first and last posts were written in 2012 and 2014 but the rest fall into mainly the first half of 2013.)

WVU Thieving Again

MONONGALIA COUNTY COMMISSION THROWING THE STORE WIDE OPEN AND THEN DRIVING THE GET-AWAY CAR

Annex, Annex, Annex

HOW PATHETIC IS THE CITY OF MORGANTOWN?

The Great Swindle – Part One

THE BALLPARK TIF – OBLITERATING GOVERNMENT CONTROL OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY LOCKING IN PUBLIC MONIES TO PRIVATE AND WEALTHY INTERESTS

The Great Swindle – Part Two

THE “BALLPARK TIF” AND HARTMAN RUN BRIDGE

The Ill Mice And The Fat Cats

THE HARTMAN RUN BRIDGE SCANDAL STEMS FROM THE REALITY THAT THE MORGANTOWN CITY COUNCIL AND THE MONONGALIA COUNTY COMMISSION ACT LIKE THEY ARE IN LOVE WITH BEING POOR

The Great Swindle – Part Three

RECOVERING SOME OF THE STOLEN LOOT FROM THE GREAT CON THAT IS THE BALLPARK TIF

The Great Swindle – Part Four

WHOSE BALLPARK IS IT?

Own It And Operate It Expansively – The TIF Ballpark And Other Parts Of The TIF District

THE “BALLPARK TIF” DISTRICT DOES NOT EXIST IN ISOLATION, THEREFORE FUNDS SHOULD BE USED, CONTROLLED, AND GENERATED IN THE TIF DISTRICT BY THE COUNTY, TO DIRECTLY SUPPORT AND BENEFIT AS WELL THE ENTIRE COUNTY AND REGIONAL PUBLIC

Name That Stadium!

EVERY SCANDAL DESERVES A FITTING NAME

The Great Swindle – Part Five

THE BIG LIE THAT IS THE “BALLPARK TIF” PLAN

Scotts Run Pillaged Yet Again – Part One

NOTHING LIKE PILLAGING THE FACE OF APPALACHIAN POVERTY

OR

SCOTTS RUN – WHAT’S LEFT TO PILLAGE? TURNS OUT: PLENTY

Scotts Run Pillaged Yet Again – Part Two

FORMERLY A COAL RICH AREA, SCOTTS RUN PSD RECENTLY BECAME A TIF PLAN GOLD MINE RIPE TO BE PLUNDERED

Scotts Run Pillaged – Part Three

HOW A FEW INDIVIDUALS CAN DESTROY A PUBLIC ENTITY

or

MONONGALIA COUNTY GOOD OL’ BOY NETWORK STRIKES AGAIN

or

HOW TO DESTROY A PUBLIC ENTITY IN FIVE EASY STEPS

Scotts Run Pillaged – Part Four

SCOTTS RUN PUBLIC SERVICE DISTRICT – A GOOD THING DESTROYED

 On Bullshit

“REMEMBER, KAY…” YOU AND YOUR NEIGHBORS HAVE BEEN ROBBED

 

 

Derelict WVU

WVU administration must forcefully ally with WVU faculty and students to act decisively to stop the campus carry bill: WVU should move to curtail the nationally renowned football and basketball seasons until loaded lethal weapons – killing machines – are banned from college classrooms, dining halls, residence halls, and all campus.

WVU admin possesses big weapons. It needs to use them to stop the insanity of loaded lethal weapons in classrooms.

It remains disgusting and derelict that the full force of WVU has not been summoned to quash the obscenity of loaded lethal weapons – killing machines – in classrooms.

WVU Vice President Alsop foolishly and wrongly publicly states that WVU is not united on this issue, and that it would be a “disaster” if WVU could not host NCAA sports events, which his exemptions in the bill are protecting, the “most sensitive” areas, as Alsop calls them. Yes, sensitive to the Athletic Department’s budget. The real disaster is putting killing machines in college classrooms. In dining halls. In residence halls. Anywhere on campus.

The leadership of WVU in regard to this bill has been atrocious, to put it mildly. It’s a shit show.

French great Victor Hugo once wrote that (the French equivalent of) “shit” is “the finest word in the French language.” It is also the finest word in the English language. And WVU admin is covered in it right now.

VP Alsop’s resignation should be demanded, as a matter of course. And not his alone. The lethargy, incompetence, and basic acquiescence of WVU admin remains appalling and inexcusable. It stands in stark contrast to the energy, the integrity, and the actions of the WVU faculty and students in opposing the legalization of loaded lethal weapons in classrooms and all across campus.

Top 10 reasons Morgantown should secede from West Virginia to form its own land, and West Virginia University should rename itself Allegheny Mountain University

by 
Victor Rip (special to NWCS)

10. This should encourage The Monongalia County Commission (current captor of Morgantown and WVU) to accurately rename itself as: The Cabal of Urban Sprawl.

9. The Monongalia County Commission could then vote to build a wall around Morgantown to keep the city folks out, but upon realizing that the insane borders zigzag seemingly forever and that no one else will pay for it, the miserly Commission would be forced to build a wall so short that people would hop right over it … on their way to and from Pennsylvania.

8. The trigger-happy Republicans in the West Virginia state government pushing guns onto West Virginia college campuses would be stopped cold, thus preventing faculty and student flight, outrageous expense, and deadly danger.

7. The roads would actually be well paved, unlike the awful “country roads” long celebrated but also long abandoned and destroyed by West Virginia and the One Percent which has the state by the throat, making it look like there is no real pride at all in the country roads of West Virginia.

6. The schools would no longer be nationally ranked in the cellar: only those in the “old country” would be.

5. The Monongalia County Commission, aka, The Cabal of Urban Sprawl, might at long last see that it needs to do what the adults do in Morgantown and WVU, that is, fund and oversee substantial library, park, wifi, and road systems, etc and so on (professional police, professional fire department, curbside recycling…) for the people.

4. The Cabal of Urban Sprawl would be forced to create and operate its own Utility Board to complain about and run into the ground however it sees fit.

3. WVU, in becoming the new AMU, Allegheny Mountain University, could get rid of its trigger-happy gun-blasting Mountaineer mascot for a more meaningful one, such as the Wood Bison, a great beast bigger than even the Plains Bison, the last few killed in West Virginia almost two centuries ago, blasted by guns.

2. With the population continuing to decline in West Virginia, choked by One Percent rule, and its lands pillaged so as to be increasingly uninhabitable, Morgantown and WVU might as well get the hell out too.

1. To change all the slogans: from “Wild and Wonderful West Virginia!” to “No Longer Warped and Wacked-Out-Of-Our-White-Supremacist-Minds West Virginia!” / from “Wherever you may be, it’s a great day to be a Mountaineer” to “Wood Bison Forever! Remember! Forever!” / from “Coal is West Virginia!” to “Theft was West Virginia!” / from “Country Roads Take Me Home!” to “County Roads Wrecked Me Out!” / from “Mountain Mama!” to “Blasted Mama!”

7-11 is not heaven, West Virginia. Big business, including the pimps of corporate media, and their lackeys in the state government, continue to ruin the mountain state, profiteering and pillaging all the way, till the end. Surely things are long past the point of striking over. It’s time to secede from the state, Morgantown and WVU. This Top Ten is merely the tip of the blown up mountains of reasons to go, move forward, progress as a new land, in a new day.

(Don’t worry, ancient white-blood WV, Morgantown and WVU have some doozies you can keep. You’re welcome to them.)

In West Virginia the fabled country roads get no respect and are most useful for fleeing the state

It’s time for teachers and other school workers to strike for the roads too, and DOH worker pay and benefits. Buses, bus drivers, students, teachers, parents use the roads all the time of course. If they can. A key lesson that should have been learned from last year’s school strike, the only substantial way forward for education – and apparently for the rest of society in WV – is for educators to expand their push for improvement beyond education.

The rest of the population in all other areas needs to join in. Teacher pay should be higher, class sizes should be smaller, campuses should be better resourced etc. But/and so too should DOT/DOH workers pay be higher so enough workers can be found to fix the damn roads (for school buses not least, as for everyone). The same applies to other fields and situations. It’s clear that a general strike is needed every year, for the foreseeable future. Services and assistance for low income families should be much more advanced (including to improve the abilities of impoverished children at school). That means striking for better wage laws and work conditions and better health care for the population in general. Read the rest of this entry »

Indoor Year-Round Recreation & Wellness Centers for the City of Morgantown

This map diagram shows a possible community recreation and wellness center site that has been suggested, with forested parkland acquisition, below South Hills, adjacent to Marilla Park, linking directly into a Haymaker Forest connector trail. 

Y or other wellness center

This could well be a great site for the city, and larger area. The site is on a slope, though one that has been partly flattened and cleared. The site sits above Green Bag Road, which is slated for near-term upgrades. A good, if very short, access trail to Marilla Park and Decker’s Creek Trail would need to be built, which would readily fit longstanding city planning.

The location would be extremely functional for many local residents, including via existing city green space parks and trails access and extension. Public purchase of the large forested tracts there along Green Bag Road would expand the city’s forested parks and green space in such a way as to advance the trail connection between White Park (and Mon River Trail), Haymaker Forest, Marilla Park, and Decker’s Creek Trail.

The possibility has long since been suggested of putting a Y or other rec and wellness center in the existing forest at Marilla Park. However that forested area is smaller and serves as a vital greenbelt of its own. And another new facility there could congest the existing park. Better to expand the park, or park system. So, instead a Marilla Park adjacent site below South Hills neighborhood and above Green Bag Road in a larger forest that is already partly knocked down, and the terrain leveled, could be extremely functional, while not overwhelming the local ecology. This location could bring a very important additional forest and trailway into the city to help complete a connector trail from White Park (and the Mon River Trail) to Haymaker Forest and to Marilla Park and to Decker’s Creek Trail and beyond (possibly per the map diagram above).

Not only is this site for a recreation and wellness facility a central and nearby location to the downtown neighborhoods, including via Deckers Creek Trail and a future connector trail between the parks, forest, creek, and river, this location would also give good car/bus access to Green Bag Road urban sprawl residents, as has been pointed out, as well as, at not much more of a stretch, the 8,000+ people of Brookhaven via Sabraton and Route 7.

In addition to this, a year-round indoor community recreation and wellness water center is very much needed on the Woodburn schoolgrounds, in that great space. Two such facilities could be well designed on these sites to complement one another, to meet the needs of the residents and neighborhoods of the four south and central wards in Morgantown: 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 6th. In this way, the green space and wellness community resources and benefits for the neighborhoods of the City of Morgantown, as well as for the intertwined nearby urban sprawl county areas and populations, would be greatly improved. Read the rest of this entry »

Doubleblind: The Menace of Route 119 Thruway Traffic on Spruce and High

Great editorial by Liana Krissoff on possibilities for revitalizing downtown (“A Walkable Downtown is a Sittable One,” Dominion Post, July 15).

The major structural problem with downtown Morgantown is that it is a cement gully of thruways, with nearly no tree shade and virtually no pedestrian malls or parklets. “Downtown” is a harried narrow traffic corridor, practically an industrial zone. Even the sidewalks are narrow and have the feel more of heavy machinery operations in an industrial park than of a stream of urban parklets and pedestrian plazas for shopping and obtaining public services, and for public congregating for walkabout exercise, entertainment, and socializing. The all-consuming traffic corridors of downtown – let alone the heavy trucks – gut the public social and economic nature and possibilities of Morgantown.

Why? Blame Route 119, which runs along basically 16 blocks of downtown, coming and going mainly on Spruce and High streets. Route 119 should cover only 4 blocks and not run along Spruce or High at all, only cross them. If this structural change were made, then the equivalent of at least half a dozen street blocks, mainly on Spruce and High, could be converted to tree shaded pedestrian malls or parklets, with adjacent tree-covered non-thruway parking and access drives.

Plaza & Parklet Downtown

This would provide the public much more relief from the sun in summer, much more space, much more leisure and exercise opportunities, much more room for pleasant outdoor social and public activities, and access to public services, while providing local businesses with the crowds they need to thrive. This would greatly transform – structurally and socially, environmentally and economically, the cement gully thruway that is currently downtown Morgantown.

Structurally, it’s an efficient if somewhat costly fix. The engineering would be impressive, possibly a swooping S shaped configuration south on (new) Route 119 from Willey Street to Beechhurst Avenue to manage the approximate 50 foot change in elevation over about 650 feet, as compared to the 40+ foot change in elevation over about 550 feet going north on Route 119, from University Avenue up Pleasant Street to High Street. This change would be less steep and more robust but otherwise similar to Campus Drive where it curves and changes 80 feet of elevation over 850 feet between Beechhurst Avenue and University Avenue. 

Route 119, which comes south from PA near UHS, then up Easton Hill and across the Mileground should not run across the Mileground into downtown. It should instead be diverted at the airport to run down Hartman Run Road (Route 857) to Route 7 and Green Bag Road, and then continue on up past Dorsey’s Knob, skirting downtown Morgantown entirely.

Route 119 traffic that actually needs to get to downtown would continue across the Mileground with interstate traffic and go through the roundabout onto Willey Street (while picking up traffic from Route 705). All this traffic would continue to follow Willey Street downhill, crossing Spruce Street to High Street, and instead of turning onto High Street, cross it to continue on Willey for an additional block. Then two new blocks of streets would need to be constructed by the state downhill through parking lots at that point to connect immediately with Beechhurst Avenue, at the existing intersection but reconfigured there on Beechhurst.

This simple realignment would remove ALL traffic of Route 119, the Mileground, Route 705, Wiley Street, and Richwood Avenue, etc, from the downtown main streets of Spruce and High, which could then be converted largely to tree-covered pedestrian malls, with some non-thruway parking and some limited-access non-thruway drives. 

Route 7 with its heavy trucks could and should also be diverted from downtown (including the bit of Spruce Street that it destroys each year) and onto Green Bag Road, with forthcoming improvements there. Even without a Route 7 diversion, a serious Route 119 realignment would greatly transform downtown, create it anew.

It’s time to get rid of the menace that is Route 119, and all of its conjoined traffic on Spruce and High, which is largely to blame for the existing cement gully of downtown Morgantown that is the cause of many of downtown’s business, social, health, structural, and environmental problems.

Meanwhile, the end of Green Bag Road should be aligned into a single intersection with the end of Smithtown Road to get rid of the insanity of that deadly double-blind intersection there. The City, County, and State all have known financial mechanisms that could fund that studied and known fix there, at any time they feel so inclined to get it done. The public should actively press for these badly needed changes and improvements.

Satellite maps show that not only is downtown a cement gully (traffic corridors) with no tree canopy but basically a sprawling paved parking wasteland with no tree canopy. Both conditions are destructive of public, social, and economic life (not to mention health, environment, ecology).

Because of the local geography, downtown will always be a hub of traffic. An engulfing web of roads feeds to and through it. That will always be the case. The question is to what extreme. Everything will continue to feed toward downtown but much less should feed through the very center of downtown.

That any US or state route runs through central downtown Morgantown main streets at this point – let alone for dozens of downtown blocks (Spruce, High, Pleasant, Walnut, Brockway) – is an abomination for city life. Long ago it was necessary. Now it is a menace, including for drivers just trying to get through.

Downtown Morgantown needs the shock to the system that blocking off Spruce and High would bring, in my view. Readily re-locating Routes 119 and 7 is imperative. A third parking garage could enable the city to begin to cover the remaining downtown lots and areas with tree canopy.

It is also conceivable, maybe more conceivable, that central Spruce and High could be well converted to combos of pedestrian mall and essentially single lane, one way semi-thru-parking lots with angle parking, not parallel parking, and the sidewalk greatly expanded along one side of each street into a green mall.

Any way you go, you have to get the nearly two dozen blocks of US/state routes entirely out of that downtown area/corridor. This is the only way to eliminate thru traffic and create enough space (while maintaining parking) to get a significant tree cover into downtown. Instead, you could try to take out or reduce the parking lots and plant trees but that won’t be supported enough to matter, especially with the high amount of thru traffic and big events that sometimes occupy all the spots. Not to mention lunch hour, in some locations. In any case, the tree canopy is needed for pedestrians, and crowds, and pedestrian activities (like shopping, residing, servicing, exercising), not for the existing enormous amount of commuters and thru traffic.

Downtown is a chaotic mess because it is primarily a drivethru zone and not primarily a destination zone. It will always be a hub of driving, transportation. Now it needs to take the next step to not be the sliced and diced gully and paved wasteland of a commuter corridor and industrial cut-through that it currently is.

In the meantime, getting a really green parklet into downtown would be a great accomplishment (as significant or more significant than the farmer’s market area, in my opinion) and potentially give much impetus and vision to Liana Krissoff’s larger green web idea. It would better show the need, benefit, and possibilities for rerouting the arterial roads too.

This?:

Cement Gully Downtown

Or this?:

Plaza & Parklet Downtown