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White Park bridge and path undertaking proving difficult

MORGANTOWN — It’ll occur, but it surely’s difficult. 

These 5 phrases sum up Morgantown Workers Engineer Drew Gatlin’s latest replace to BOPARC concerning the brand new bridge and path community deliberate for White Park. 

The bridge in query would permit entry to the south facet of the previous Cobun Creek Reservoir, opening some 20 acres of White Park for trails and public use. 

The bridge/path undertaking is being led by the town and funded by the Morgantown Utility Board as a part of the agreed-upon remediation that allowed the utility to run a gravity-fed water line via the park in 2019. That line linked MUB’s water therapy heart to the brand new Flegal Dam and Reservoir. 

Each Gatlin and Assistant Metropolis Supervisor Emily Muzzarelli have stated the purpose is to get work on the bridge began in 2024 and sure accomplished someday in 2025, however there stays some uncertainty. 

“There’s quite a lot of unknowns. We thought this was going to be lots easier course of,” Gatlin stated.  “Proper now, the events concerned are 100% dedicated to getting the general public what it needs in a way that’s not going to be a burden on the surroundings. We do know that bridge connection is totally wanted … There are only a lot of regulators concerned.” 

In an analogous replace to BOPARC in November 2022, Muzzarelli stated the town may already foresee issues involving the Federal Emergency Administration Company’s flood information in addition to, probably, the Military Corps of Engineers. 

Additional, Gatlin stated MUB was initially hopeful a culvert-style bridge could possibly be constructed to cross the reservoir, however doing so would require reducing via some 16 toes of collected sediment. 

“We’ve seen a stage of complication on this undertaking that has simply made it very clear that no matter anyone concerned on this can do to get extra money on the desk via any means doable goes to assist,” he stated.  

To that finish, the town is in search of an extra $2 million from the Environmental Safety Company’s Brownfields Program. Town was awarded $500,000 earlier this 12 months. 

A brownfield is a parcel of land with any actual or perceived contamination as a consequence of a earlier use.  

Within the late Nineteen Eighties, the West Virginia Division of Environmental Safety and the U.S. EPA formally acknowledged White Park as a brownfield website because it consists of land that was as soon as a part of the South Morgantown Tank Farm.  

Developed by Normal Oil within the Eighteen Eighties, the tank farm was one of many largest of its time. At its top, the land we all know as White Park was a part of a 700-acre website doubtless holding greater than two million barrels of oil.

Gatlin stated the town employed a guide to evaluate the present contamination stage. 

“We discovered via that course of there’s a average, however not super-threatening, stage of contamination in sure elements of the soil,” he stated, noting the town is working with the EPA to flesh out a path growth method that meets the needs of each the general public and regulators.  

“To ensure that us to open the south facet to the general public just like the north facet is at the moment open to the general public, it could behoove us to design the path in a means that it could be shepherding individuals via in an intentional means — steering away from areas that have been both ecologically fragile or have some contamination. The place we will’t steer round contamination, going instantly on prime and making an permitted cowl in a means that doesn’t require us to take down a bunch of enormous timber.” 

BOPARC President Danielle Trumble stated trails on the park’s south facet don’t do a lot good if individuals can’t get to them. 

“I’m simply terrified. We’ve been engaged on this bridge since earlier than I used to be on metropolis council. I’ve acquired three and half extra years and I really feel like we’re nonetheless going to be engaged on it lengthy after my time,” she stated. 

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