PLATINUM PROPERTIES, LLC
150 Clay Street,
Morgantown, West Virginia 26501
July 22, 2004
RE: Interim Solution Upper Mon Lock
Congressman Alan B. Mollohan
2302 Rayburn House Building
Washington DC 20515
Dear Congressman Mollohan:
As youre aware, Platinum Properties, LLC, other developers, The City of Morgantown, Monongalia County, and The State of West Virginia have collectively spent and/or committed over $150 million to the development of the Wharf District in Morgantown, West Virginia, including a $3.5 million Marina scheduled for completion in the Fall of 2005.
Platinum Properties, LLC is currently negotiating a lease with an excursion Paddle Wheel operator to moor two excursion boats at the new Marina. Upon completion of the Marina, these Paddle Wheelers will travel through the locks from early morning to late evening, offering scenic day cruises as well as evening cruises. One proposed excursion would travel from Morgantown to Fairmont and back. It is our desire and intent, after numerous meetings with the Mayor Fantasia, to utilize our momentum in the Wharf District to aid in the redevelopment of the Fairmonts waterfront area. Specifically, we envision a Fairmont waterfront marina that would serve as a pivoting point for paddle wheelers, as well as anchor many of Fairmonts waterfront redevelopment initiatives. The cruises will highlight our beautiful riverfront communities, as well as West Virginias natural scenery in between.
Given this, you can appreciate our frustration with our Upper Mon locks at Hildebrand and Opekiska now being open only from 12:30PM to 8:20PM Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, during the recreational boating season. The Morgantown lock, open 7AM-3PM weekdays, switches to the hours for Hildebrand and Opekiska on weekends and holidays. If these hours remain intact, a majority of the morning and evening excursion cruises will be eliminated. There is a distinct possibility that the excursion tours will not be able to operate enough hours in the day to be profitable. If this occurs, we will have truly missed an opportunity.
We endorse and ask for your support for the proposed Interim Solution offered by The UPPER MONONGAHELA RIVER ASSOCIATION INCORPORATED for Upper Mon recreational and commercial boating lock hours. We would like to see this solution in effect until such time as our three locks are restored to 24/7 operations, either through implementation of your initiative for remote operation of our three locks from the Point Marion lock, or, by funding sufficient to staff our locks with lock operators.
We support their request to have our three locks open from 6AM to 10PM on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, during the 1 May - 31 October recreational and commercial boating season. Doing so, will encourage recreational and commercial excursions traffic the ability to travel the Upper Mon from Point Marion to Fairmont on weekends. It would likewise permit the continuation of the economic development efforts, so needed by the State of West Virginia. The success of the Morgantown Wharf District and the Marina, as well as similar riverfront endeavors in Fairmont, Westover, and Star City to name a few, is predicated upon the unimpeded flow of both recreational and commercial traffic through the locks.
It is our understanding that the Pittsburgh District budgets a lock operator at $100K/year for salary and overhead. Lets not allow a decision to save $100K/year cost West Virginia communities millions of dollars in lost tourism revenue.
On behalf of Milan Puskar and Steve Lorenze, I ask that you help bring about the proposed Permanent Solution for Upper Mon in WV recreational and commercial boating hours.
Parry G. Petroplus
Platinum Properties, LLC