Rail-Trail Has Changed Life in Our Town
Morgantown Dominion Post
10 March 2013
By Steve Selin
I appreciated the recent Goodwill City (DP-Feb. 7) article about
the formation of the Monongahela River Trails Conservancy (MRTC)
and the 48 mile rail-trail we enjoy here in our backyard. Twenty
years later, the goodwill continues.
In many ways, the trail has transformed life here in Morgantown,
turning the Monongahela River into a recreational and economic
asset after years of neglect and abuse. The trail has also
encouraged healthy, active lifestyles as commuters, families, and
lovers have rediscovered their bikes, running shoes, and
rollerblades, leaving their cars behind. The trail has also
emerged as a catalyst for riverfront revitalization in the
downtown area, Wharf District and Star City.
Not that managing a 48-mile linear park is easy! Landslides,
downed trees and vandalism are a constant challenge to the unique
partnership between MRTC, the city of Morgantown (BOPARC), and the
Monongalia County Commission charged with maintaining and
enhancing the trail.
Hats off to Ella Belling, the executive director of MRTC, who has
provided sustained leadership and vision for the trail. Through
Belling’s prolific grant-writing efforts, MRTC and BOPARC recently
were awarded more than $200,000 of federal dollars to resurface
sections of the Deckers Creek Trail and stabilize part of the
trail being undercut by Deckers Creek.
Mark Wise, Director of BOPARC, and the city of Morgantown, also
deserves much praise for their stalwart support of the trail. The
BOPARC maintenance crew is constantly trimming back the
encroaching brush, clearing out culverts, and replacing
gates and benches damaged by vandals. Our daily enjoyment of the
trail depends heavily on this maintenance crew. Eldon Callen and
the Monongalia County Commission are to be commended on their
support of the trail. Callen’s legal advice for the trail and the
commission’s annual support has been invaluable to maintain the
trail at a high standard, particularly outside the city limits of
Finally, Mayor Allen Sharp and the community of Star City have
demonstrated remarkable vision in realizing the potential of the
trail by revitalizing their Riverfront Park and developing the
recreational potential of the old Quality Glass site.
Now, you can see that it takes everyone working together to manage
a first-class trail system! None of this would be possible without
the hundreds of volunteers who turn out to help maintain and
enhance the trail. For example, an Eagle Scout project recently
added a new weather shelter near Little Fall on the Mon River
Trail that now offers trail users a place to rest and shelter from
The future looks bright for the Mon River Trails. Perhaps the most
exciting new connection will be the completion of the northern
extension of the trail into Pennsylvania. Anyone who’s ridden to
Apple Annies for breakfast or their famous cakes and pies knows
what I’m talking about!
So, let’s work together to realize the great potential of the Mon
River Trails. Become a Mon River Trails Conservancy member and
help the rail-trail.
Learn more at our website: montrails.org. Our future success rests
squarely on the goodwill of all of us.
Steve Selin is an avid trail user and a MRTC board member. This
commentary should be considered another point of view and not
necessarily the opinion or editorial policy of The Dominion Post.