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 »

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’s purchase of Haymaker Forest and illuminate many other local public issues. 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 all the local neighborhoods 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

 

 

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

Morgantown City Council Town Hall & The Future Of City Issues

So at the Morgantown City Council Town Hall today, Saturday, 9-noon, there were by my count at its high point, 33 people in the Met Theater audience seats and 11 support personnel for the city, including 6 Councilors, 1 City Manager, 1 moderator, 2 police officers, and 1 lighting technician. The people in attendance were more or less evenly split on their views, and there were only about three dozen or less.

This shows that the City Council basically has a clear mandate to do as it sees fit on the main issues of the day, especially in accord with the interests and needs of their constituents who elected them.

This Town Hall shows that City Council should move forward with all possible speed in deliberating and deciding to a) purchase Haymaker Forest, b) provide referendums for levies for community needs for the public to vote on in November, and c) further pursue annexation of the urban sprawl county areas that are overwhelming the city’s borders, infrastructure, and services.

The scheduled moderator, the “President and CEO of the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce,” arrived late, after the first question had been asked and partly answered, and he offered no apology for being late. Even if his excuse was a good one – traffic accident? – he offered no explanation.

No one seemed surprised, let alone asked for an explanation or apology from the “President and CEO of the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce.” Does he work more for the “Area” than for the “City of Morgantown”? Did he have an “Area” meeting that he had to attend prior to the Town Hall put on by the Morgantown City Council? One can only wonder.

In any event, one thing is clear. The Morgantown City Councilors evidently have retained their mandate to act as they see fit on the public’s behalf, throughout the second year of their two year term. Let’s hope the Councilors take that mandate ever more seriously and act on it ever more strongly over the course of the remaining year, for the public good, both near and long term.

History of the Battle for Haymaker Forest (Part Two)

The battle for Haymaker Forest is now entering its fourth year, here in the second half of summer, 2018.

On August 7, 2015, Doug Warden, representing Cheat Road Engineering, submitted a request for an estimate from MUB for water/sewer/storm service for a highly detailed proposed new subdivision.   https://newwoodburncommunityschool.files.wordpress.com/…/06…

The planned development spanned the entire breadth of Haymaker Forest.   https://newwoodburncommunityschool.files.wordpress.com/…/mu…

The plans for this proposed new development had been accidentally discovered earlier in the summer by a local resident who found an engineering map of the design on the edge of the woods.   https://newwoodburncommunityschool.files.wordpress.com/…/su…

Over the course of months, MUB drew up and released the plans to the developer. None of this was known or reported publicly except by concerned residents who filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests of MUB, the city, and elsewhere in a determined effort to find out what was going on, and who knew what.

By late spring the following year, May 2016, Mr. Warden appeared before the Morgantown City Planning Commission to request street access for the new subdivision into the city on a dangerous steep curve of Buckhannon Ave. The Planning Commission refused to approve the request in the face of dozens of residents from multiple neighborhoods who spoke out against any new subdivision’s access to Buckhannon Ave. No one other than Mr. Warden spoke for access.   https://www.facebook.com/groups/1063344577038302/permalink/1122247004481392/

Eight months earlier, three Neighborhood Associations of communities adjacent to Haymaker Forest had presented a formal position paper to City Council and County Commission opposing the proposed new development’s access at Buckhannon and calling for the “public purchase and stewardship” of as much of Haymaker Forest as possible to preserve the environment, the wildlife, the ecology, and to preserve the health, well-being, and the quality of life of the many residents in the adjacent neighborhoods and in the city and county in general.  https://newwoodburncommunityschool.org/2018/07/15/history-of-the-battle-for-haymaker-forest/

This was a big victory for the effort to save Haymaker Forest, when a wide variety of residents turned out at the city’s Planning Commission meeting causing the Commission to block the developer’s proposal by tabling it. Then in August 2016, Cheat Road Engineering withdrew its development proposal entirely from the Planning Commission agenda. Another victory. However, as the Dominion Post reported, city engineer Chris Fletcher stated his expectation that plans for a new subdivision were likely to be drawn up.   https://www.facebook.com/groups/1063344577038302/permalink/1122247004481392/

And this is exactly what happened. By February of 2017, a new development design was created by Cheat Road Engineering again across all of Haymaker Forest.   https://www.facebook.com/groups/1063344577038302/permalink/1294076123965145/

This time, street access to the redesigned development was plotted primarily via Dorsey Avenue, which is state controlled, and in the County at that juncture, with no City control, though very close to the boundary line between the City of Morgantown’s First and Second wards. The developer’s bulldozers could plow through at any moment in this large county portion of the Forest. The City could not stop anything. And roll in a bulldozer did, without any public warning, in April 2018 to clear ground for the taking of bore samples, presumably to determine road and building foundation requirements.   https://www.facebook.com/groups/1063344577038302/permalink/1818300294876056/

Fortunately, the next major victory in the battle for Haymaker Forest had culminated almost exactly one year prior to the first bulldozer grinding into the forest: Morgantown city election day in April 2017, when two of the three City Councilors representing city wards bordering Haymaker Forest, who had moved ineffectively or not at all on saving the forest, were handed two huge defeats. Councilor Redmond and Councilor Bane lost in a landslide to Mark Brazaitis and Rachel Fetty, who gathered the second highest and the highest number of votes of all the candidates. The battle for Haymaker Forest fueled that entire city election. People from many backgrounds did a lot of work, in particular Bernie Sanders supporters. And the people who had been working and turning out to help save Haymaker were as actively involved as anyone. Mark Brazaitis had made a centerpiece of his campaign the preservation of Haymaker Forest – the only way to protect the wildlife, ecology, and environment and to preserve the quality of life of the adjacent neighborhoods and of the city and county in general. He called upon any and all entities, private and public, to act to preserve this local community forest facing imminent destruction.

Many basically fruitless efforts had been made to secure funds for saving Haymaker Forest. Even a reluctant Councilor Redmond had been enlisted, and he noted the varied organizational and individual efforts being made to protect Haymaker Forest and the adjacent neighborhoods as early as October 2015, per his email response to concerned citizens of that month and year.   https://newwoodburncommunityschool.org/2018/06/12/early-history-on-the-battle-for-haymaker-forest/

Local area residents across 3 of the 7 City Wards bordering the forest, along with residents citywide and in the county, had since the summer of 2015 considered every possible funding and preservation option for Haymaker Forest that anyone could think of, and tried to pursue whatever seemed most feasible. These efforts spanned possible city, state, federal, environmental, university, and private funding sources. Further efforts and appeals were made to the County as well, to no funding effect. Plainly, multi-million dollars were needed, and no entity with the resources was willing to step up. Many were called. None answered, with anything by way of even a partial solution. (The one entity that came closest to helping was the West Virginia Land Trust, which offered some valuable ideas but had no dollars to spare.)

During one effort to secure funding, in fall of 2015, concerned residents proposed that the City Council dedicate a portion of the soon-to-be-voted-on User Fee to permanently fund both green space acquisition, such as Haymaker Forest, and ongoing BOPARC activities and infrastructure. This made some minimal progress with the City Council at that time, before being entirely dismissed. Not so much as a cent would go to green space. Much else was considered and explored from then on, with no funds ever being secured.

That’s why the City Council elections of April 2017 were such a huge victory in the long battle toward saving Haymaker Forest. Council has subsequently proven willing to consider a referendum and other funding mechanisms, which are more progressive than the User Fee, to save Haymaker Forest. The three Councilors known to be most opposed to spending city money on protecting the forest were resoundingly defeated, while the vocal proponent for preserving the forest, Mark Brazaitis, was overwhelmingly elected, as was every single one of his allies at the time, with no losses. http://thecityofmorgantown.com/…/morgantown-city-council-wi…

From the unsuccessful but strong public requests and proposals to City Council (and other public agencies) to buy and protect the Haymaker Forest for the public in the fall of 2015, to the great public turnout at the city’s Planning Commission meeting in May of 2016 that successfully blocked temporarily the proposed new development, to the sweeping success of the April 2017 City Council elections that removed the 3 councilors most opposed to any forest purchase and brought in at least several strong advocates for its purchase, to the remarkable summer of 2018 City Council plans and proposals for a green space acquisition referendum and City purchase of the forest for the public, to the ongoing negotiations between the City and the current forest owners to save the community forest for the public once and for all, the battle for Haymaker Forest has proven to be the proverbial long and winding road.