September 2, 2003
John Simmons, Director
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
1601 Elmerton Avenue
P.O. Box 67000
Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000
Dear Mr Simmons,
I am writing to offer my encouragement and support for the Point Marion Marina proposal for a Boating Infrastructure Grant.
The National Park Service's Rivers & Trails Program has been assisting the Upper Mon River Water Trail project since 2002. The project was initiated through the Monongahela River Recreation Committee of the Vision 2020 Program of the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce.
In January 2002, I worked with the group to develop an Action Plan for the coming years. The development and promotion of the Upper Mon Water Trail became a top priority, along with identifying funding for trail infrastructure, interpretation of the river, and river clean ups.
The group has been amazingly successful in their efforts. The Upper Mon Water Trail brochure was published and distributed in June 2003, after numerous meetings and visits with community leaders along the route. The trail's end points were determined through gauging community interest and involvement, as well as the location of the lock & dams.
Due to this effort, the project quickly became a bi-state project, and encompasses river communities in Marion and Monongalia Counties WV, as well as Greene and Fayette Counties PA.
The three goals of the water trail are to:
1) encourage multi-day trips by recreational boaters,
2) encourage trail-related business development,
3) increase opportunities for understanding and appreciating riverfront communities and their culture.
Because of this project, communities have geared up to prepare for new visitors. In WV, the group prepared a Boating Infrastructure Grant engineering report for the application, working with 5 community sites. It is my understanding that the full $100,000 grant was awarded, and Mr. Patrick Donovan of the WV Public Port Authority is now working with two communities (Morgantown and Star City) to get all the final details and paperwork completed.
The Point Marion community has responded to the project by creating a Recreation Committee of the Borough Council. The committee (Groce, Murphy, Cocalis) has been very proactive and responsive to the water trail and the rail-trail opportunities that will transform their town and result in community and economic revitalization.
All communities and river recreation related businesses along the Upper Mon River have also responded very positively. It is indeed a national trend to refocus community revitalization to their riverfronts, and the Upper Mon is coming into its own. The beauty of these linear trail projects is the linking of neighborhoods and towns, and increased joy in working together.
In the coming years, the bi-state Mon River Recreation Committee will be busy:
a) implementing the BIG projects;
b) applying for Tier II BIG award for a bi-state project;
c) working with artists to develop creative interpretation of the rivers' history and ecology, encouraging stewardship and care; d) supporting extended lock hours;
e) sponsoring river clean ups;
f) coordinating and collaborating on projects and events.
g) updating the Upper Mon Water Trail brochure, as communities develop additional docks and services for transient boaters.
The bi-state nature of the project has made it more complex, but also has broadened everyone's understanding of our shared heritage along the Monongahela River.
Please feel free to contact me for assistance.