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.

There are a number of potentially good options for neighborhood, community rec and wellness centers. The disturbed portion of Haymaker Forest has been considered, as have been portions of White Park, along with Marilla Park, Woodburn school grounds, Sabraton and so on. Even the peripheral Mountaineer Mall has its own kind of merit.

The air could be tested at the South Hills hillside site (and creatively so, in anticipation of a truck route shift), and if a different location would be more beneficial, then it would be great to simply preserve the forest there on the hillside and put a connector trail through.

Things to consider are that the air at that South Hills hillside location may be cleaner than the air at the vast majority of the area schools (and many residences, also WVU sports facilities and a number of existing stretches of the rail trails) due to the site being about 100 feet in elevation above the Green Bag roadbed, and due to the filtering effects of the leafy forest for half the year. Plenty of space also to buffer the facility with a wintertime evergreen tree belt as air filter. Testing and study would be required to determine with certainty.

The air quality on the South Hills hillside site might be able to be approximately tested in anticipation of a truck route shifting there, by walking across Route 7 and climbing uphill across from Marilla Park and measuring the air quality there in the woods at approximately the same elevation above the existing truck-route roadbed below, and at the same distance from the roadway, given the similar filtering forest and height.

Rec and wellness centers are not “all-day” or all-night locales for users, unlike schools and residences – which themselves often double as exercise locales for the attendees and residents – a double or triple compounding effect, which makes the siting of schools and residences (and workplaces) especially sensitive. But of course comparing the possible air pollution levels of the sites mentioned here: Mountaineer Mall, Marilla Park, South Hills hillside, Route 7 hillside (though not a suggested site since all forest and no flat), Woodburn school grounds, Sabraton flats, Haymaker disturbed area, and White Park would be more than appropriate. 

I wonder if there would be much variation in air pollution with a number of those places, in particular given the mechanical wasteland and lack of trees at Mountaineer Mall, and the limited elevation from Route 7 and the limited tree density at Marilla Park toward the highway, and given that the Haymaker disturbed area is by a busy road and gas station, and given the highway proximity without trees or elevation of the flats on either side of Marilla. That leaves White Park and Woodburn school grounds, both good spots it seems to me for rec and wellness centers, though city officials have been dismissive of the Woodburn site in this regard due to space constraints (which it seems to me, and others, could be well overcome).

Some potential locations for neighborhood rec and wellness centers that might deserve a particularly close look are on the expansive lawns and parking lots near Decker’s Creek Trail on either side of Marilla Park (toward Hogback Turn one way and on the Sabraton flats the other way), if available and if not in preventative flood plain. However, air quality in those spots could be as problematic as anywhere else considered, or moreso, for the reasons noted.

If White Park and Woodburn school grounds are better all-around locations for a couple rec and wellness centers (which should be near Decker’s Creek Trail, or near some connector to Decker’s Creek Trail, since it is the linchpin of most of the neighborhoods in these several wards and county surrounds), then all the better to leave the South Hills hillside to be all forest and trail, with a forest restoration project there where it is currently destroyed and dug out. Otherwise that hillside may be as viable a spot as any for one of multiple local rec and wellness centers. In the comparative mix, its biggest challengers as preferred sites – all things considered – might be the Woodburn school grounds and White Park.

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