Rail-Trail Group Wants to Partner with Star City

Project plans include landscaping, paths

Morgantown Dominion Post
20 June 2011
By Joel Cuthbert

STAR CITY — While the town is yet to assume ownership of the former Quality Glass Property, plans for a cooperative project with the Monongahela River Trails Conservancy (MRTC) may already be under way.

At the Star City Council meeting Monday, MRTC Executive Director Ella Belling approached council with plans for developing at least a portion of the property with a parking area, landscaping and pathways, signage and nonmotorized boat access. Town officials have been in discussions with the Monongalia County Commission about assuming ownership of the 3-acre lot, located off VanVoorhis Road.

“We had a vision, and worked with the county on getting a grant, to make that into a trail head,” Belling told council. “... It’s right beside the rail-trail and that’s a congested area for a lot of people trying to get on the trail.”

Belling presented council with a rough map of the area and draft design of the proposed improvements, including a 60-foot path from the existing parking area to the trail; signage at the Van Voorhis Road crossing directing motorists to a larger gravel parking area; a 65-foot path from the parking area to the lower bank of the river; and a 100-foot path from the lower bank to the river, with concrete steps leading to the “boat slide.” Belling said the project could also include a larger parking area, landscaping with boulders to keep cars off the grass, and clearing the riverbank for fishing.

MRTC has already secured a $38,000 recreational trail grant for the proposed improvements, according to Belling, and asked if council would support such a proposal.

“I’m asking to see if we have a common vision for the property,” she said, “whether you’d like to work with that $38,000 to put in a nonmotorized boat access and trail head parking.”

Belling explained she needs to know if MRTC has the town’s support in order to move forward with getting designs for the “boat slide” approved by the Department of Natural Resources and securing a permit for construction through the Army Corps of Engineers.

While Mayor Bob Musick was in favor of a cooperative development effort, he said the city does not own the property at this time and suggested they discuss the matter further once ownership has been transferred.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing to work with you on,” he told Belling. “Once we sign the deed, we can sit and talk about it.” Musick did, however, express some hesitancy over the prohibitions attached to the property. Formerly owned by the Lynch family and conveyed to the county by deed in February 2002, the property was designated, and later remediated, as a brownfields site. As such, it is still subject to a number of environmental regulations and prohibitions associated with the remediation performed.

Musick said officials are waiting on a letter from the state Department of Environmental Protection confirming remediation of the property was completed before signing the deed. However, no date has been given on when the town will receive this letter.