Help Keep Locks Open, City Urged

Resolution asks Corps to find alternative funds

Morgantown Dominion Post
1 August 2012
By Tracy Eddy

Morgantown City Council will consider a resolution encouraging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the federal government to keep the Monongahela River locks open to recreational boaters.

Barry Pallay, vice president of the Upper Monongahela River Association, presented the resolution to council Tuesday, during its Committee of the Whole meeting. No official action was taken.

The resolution also includes suggestions for making sure the locks are accessible on a limited basis until their operations can be funded again.

“We recognize we may have to make some compromises,” Pallay said. “But it’s not acceptable just to shutter” the locks.

USACE could close the Hildebrand and Opekiska locks, due to national budget cuts. There also is a proposal to reduce operating hours at the Morgantown lock, from eight hours daily to eight hours on weekends and holidays only. The changes would likely take effect in October 2013.

Pallay said the resolution suggests leaving the upper Mon locks open for 45 days from April 1-Oct. 31 for the recreational boating season. They’re now open for 91 days, he said.

The resolution also asks USACE to investigate innovative ways to fund operation of the locks, such as creating an Upper Mon Port Authority that governments, businesses and others could join and contribute funds to, according to the document.
Using contractual, part-time or seasonal employees or volunteers to operate the locks was also recommended.

Pallay said Fairmont City Council, as well as the Marion and Monongalia county commissions, would be asked to consider similar resolutions.

Click here to read the Resolution as presented by Pallay