Local Rail-Trail Still on Track Thanks to Volunteers
Morgantown Dominion Post
26 January 2014
By Anita Mayer
FOR OPPORTUNITIES to volunteer, go to http://montrails.org or
contact Ella Belling, MRTC executive director, at
email@example.com, or call 304-692-6782.
Tom Talerico, in his column (DP-Monday), wonders if the Mon River
Trails Conservancy (MRTC) and the Board of Park and Recreation
Commissioners (BOPARC) “... has ever given much thought about how
much better it could be ...”
The answer is simple: Yes! Every second Thursday of the month, at
5:15 p.m. at the Star City municipal building (second floor), the
MRTC board meets to discuss the continuing development and
maintenance of the rail-trail, and how to pay for it all.
The meetings are open to the public and comments are welcome. This
information is on our website at http://montrails.org or
just do an Internet search for MRTC WV.
The city of Morgantown and BOPARC have partnered with the
all-volunteer board of directors and our director, since the
inception of the “rails to trails” in the early 1990s. It is
always a process and one cannot stress enough the wisdom of
For example, the city of Morgantown, working collaboratively with
community groups such as Sunnyside Up, MRTC and the Northern
Brownfield Center, is submitting for funding an EPA Brownfields
community-wide hazardous assessment grant to develop plans for
several properties located along the rail-trails.
This funding from the EPA would help inventory and remediate these
sites, bringing them back into useable properties for future
In addition, Morgantown, BOPARC, Star City and MRTC are working on
several projects to develop neighborhood-to-trail connectors
including a bridge to connect Greenmont and South Park, a
connector path from the Caperton Trail to Star City’s River
Landing shopping plaza, and a formal path from the end of Collins
Ferry Road to the Mon River Trail.
Trail users have requested more restrooms on the outskirts of
Morgantown and Star City. MRTC is working on two restroom
facilities and increasing parking in Masontown on the Deckers
Creek Trail and at the end of Van Voorhis Road on the Mon River
Trail. You will see significant changes at these locations this
year. We also anticipate seeing the start of construction of the
Sheepskin Trail from the West Virginia state line into Point
Marion, Pa., by the end of this year.
In Preston County, nonprofit organization Friends of the Cheat has
been actively working on rail-trail development. You can learn
more about these rail-trail initiatives at
sheepskintrail.org and cheat.org.
We have interchangeable natural and cultural history
interpretative signs at seven trailheads that are changed out
seasonally. They focus on spring and fall wildflowers, songbird
migrations, river ecology and history, railroad and rail-trail
history, among other topics.
We are always adding benches, with the latest five installed in
November as an Eagle Scout project by Nick Blumish, with Troop 77.
The mile markers, which start at the Pennsylvania/West Virginia
state line, were strategically considered and installed following
the direction of 911 Homeland Security Emergency Management in
order for there to be fast, efficient responses in cases of
Besides communication with MRTC via our website or meetings, there
are other opportunities to provide public comment and get involved
in making trail wishes into realities: Main Street Morgantown is
working on a signage plan, which includes ways to better connect
the downtown with the rail-trail.
The Mon River Town Program (http://monrivertowns.com)
is meeting in Granville, Star City and Morgantown to discuss
improvements to our river and rail-trail, whether this is an
increase in amenities or access. Public input is being requested
at the Monongalia-Morgantown Metropolitan Planning Organization’s
Bicycle Plan Open House, scheduled for Thursday, at the Public
For example, an undercut on the Deckers Creek Trail is estimated
to cost more than $150,000.
Routine maintenance requires heavy equipment that wears out. Last
year, our sidearm boom mower with brush hog and flail arm
attachment had to be replaced ($60,000). We are purchasing a dump
truck in 2014 ($70,000) to help with chronic landslides along the
MRTC has been successful in getting federal grants to help pay for
these costs but federal funding covers 80 percent of the
expenditures (usually with no administrative or office overhead
expenses allowed). So MRTC has to raise additional funds.
The city of Morgantown, the Monongalia and Marion county
commissions, private foundations, donors and members have helped
provide matching funds and for funding for routine maintenance
ANITA MAYER is president of the Mon River Trails Conservancy. This
commentary should be considered another point of view and not
necessarily the opinion or editorial policy of The Dominion Post.
Maintaining the railtrails is an ongoing and expensive challenge.