The City of Morgantown and the Way Forward Through the Haymaker Forest

Sooner rather than later, thanks to the mighty efforts of Morgantown’s most forward looking City Council and the public that vigorously supports progress, Morgantown seems more poised than ever to benefit from a new forest, new green spaces, a new library, a new Boparc, public access wifi, improving roads and walks and trails, improving and expanding city services in general, a new ice rink and a Y or similar centers, and city borders that extend to far more proper bounds, interstate to interstate (providing tens of thousands of orphaned urban county residents a local political voice via city representation), a vastly improved City budget (should be over $100 million by now rather than the measly $38 million), and more.

Already the city employee bottom wage has been bumped up to $15/hr though $20/hr would be more appropriate. Annexation funds and levies could cap, reduce, or eliminate user fees and cap the fire fee. Past City Councils and an active public should have accomplished all of this and more by now, long since. Be that as it may, the time is now to move forward on this and much more, including the various other ecological, education, health, addiction, transportation, housing, livelihood and economic pressures and needs that must be addressed. The City Council can’t achieve this without a strong active public pushing for it, but for the first time in a long time, the public might have much of the City Council it needs to make a lot of progress quick toward these very achievable goals, many of which were part of the campaign platforms and visions of the winning Council members in the last election. Now to organize and push to see it through. The Council can’t do it without the public’s vigorous involvement, in pushing forward, and in organizing to do so.

The main political heat in this area should be on the County Commission, where it belongs, since the County Commission is well known to be outright hostile to annexation, thus strangling the city in its tracks, which has cost Morgantown and the greater Morgantown area hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decades, a tremendous amount of revenue desperately needed to meet public needs in the city and near county both, gutting the City’s budget by tens of millions of dollars every year, harming both city and county residents (also businesses) enormously in economic, social, and environmental costs and more. It’s transformation time. It needs to be. Long since.

It’s transformation time in an area, greater Morgantown, that has grown in population more in the last 20 years than it grew in the previous 50. There is no end in sight to the by now decades-long rapid growth growth in population, but the badly needed social and political transformation in the area can only just now be glimpsed as beginning to form and take shape in the funding of additional city employees, and in the new city representatives, in the fixing of the streets, in the higher city wages at the bottom end, and in the terrific new forest and the green space acquisition plan city-wide that is just now at the City’s fingertips.

Haymaker Forest is West Virginia, and there is nothing more West Virginia than Haymaker Forest. One walk inside it, and you know. It may be ironic that the past heralds the future in this needed transformation forward but it is wholly fitting and absolutely necessary too. Sometimes progress is made at a glacial pace, sometimes in fits and starts, and sometimes by leaps and bounds. The three year sustained effort to secure Haymaker Forest for all time moved at each of these paces at different times. Now is the time to get it done and to move with even more determined pace onward to the next, and the next, and the next, and now.

Save the Haymaker Forest

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