WVU DUMPS ON THE PUBLIC FOR BIG BUCKS
Who would benefit from a showcase green school at the 705/Mileground intersection?:
- WVU and the College of Agriculture: selling 7 or 8 acres for about $2.3-2.6 million dollars would allow the Ag College to add a couple faculty lines.
- Route 705 developers: tightly connected to the Garrison/Walker administration and others, 705 area developers and related interests (banks, etc.) would stand to gain on investments and in property value by seeing a showcase green school situated at the gateway to 705 on the Mileground.
Who would a 705/Mileground intersection school negatively affect?”
- The children: noise polluted, air polluted, traffic-crash-dangerous, the undermined and isolated location is of strikingly (scandalously) low social, educational, and environmental quality; the narrow strip of land contains little more useable space for buildings and playgrounds than does the Woodburn site; no sizeable community exists there to help resist a likely unpopular, counterproductive, and alienating school expansion in student body size.
- Commuters and other drivers: the proposed school (likely to expand in student body size) would add unwanted traffic to an already congested high-traffic commuter and commercial intersection.
- taxpayers: they will pay the approximately $2.3-$2.6 million dollar acquisition cost.
- WVU: The lack of neighborhood schools of modest size continues to hurt the ability of WVU to attract and retain faculty.
WVU has a public obligation not to enable the illogical, anti-educational, unpopular, traffic-snarled, and otherwise inappropriate and irresponsible siting of local public schools, by even giving away the Mileground land to do so, let alone selling costly and undermined land at local public expense. Especially since the great Woodburn alternative exists. The green school grant does not cover either the Mileground land sale, nor any site preparation, nor any mine-fill. Mine-fill at the recently built University High School cost 1.9 million dollars. No one knows how much mine-fill will cost at the proposed 705/Mileground intersection site, and no one can know, until the grouting starts getting pumped in, in the effort to prevent land subsidence and building collapse.
How can the WVU President responsibly sell that land, given its dangerous nature, so costly to the local public, and given its highly questionable…context? This deal largely unfortunately looks like a crass WVU cash grab that promises to be destructive, now and for decades to come. The public has the right to an accounting and understanding of this matter, in full. The university has an obligation to divulge everything of consequence in relation to this sale.
Would the university site a daycare at the 705/Mileground screaming loud intersection? [UPDATE: Turns out that that is exactly what WVU did in great negligence a year earlier: You Don’t Say.] The 705 expressway echoes 24/7 off the cliffs, across the little hollow, onto the proposed school buildings and playgrounds. The Mileground. The university faculty would laugh such a horrible proposal off the face of the earth. And they would feel free too laugh because they have more autonomy and, let’s face it, more power than school district faculty…by far. The Easton school principal publicly hopes the isolated yet highly visible Mileground site “might not be that bad.” What else can she say? Don’t promote me in this district ever? It’s no safe, reasonable, or humane spot to have young children playing and learning. It should remain exactly what it is, a field for farm or forest, just as some faculty in the College of Agriculture think it should remain. Where has been the faculty-protected public discussion?
The Mileground intersection sight is noisy and congested, high traffic, and undermined. It is stuck in a commuter and commercial area and isolated from walking, biking, parks, downtown, and just about everything else. Meanwhile, the Woodburn site is beautiful, quiet, residential, deeply connected to community, located near two big parks and trails, accessible by car, foot, and bike. Woodburn is uniquely situated between downtown and the surrounds, in a location that naturally resists rash expansion of student body size. Nevertheless, the Woodburn grounds can be gradually and reasonably expanded, if desired, by modest purchases from willing sellers. In other words, not only does Monongalia Schools not need the pricey and remarkably ill-conceived Mileground intersection site, the children, schools, city, and county would be far better off without it.