MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Community members are searching for answers from the City of Morgantown about an agreement that was made more than two years ago. In 2019, Morgantown Board of Parks and Recreation, the City of Morgantown, and the Morgantown Utility Board cut down trees in White Park in order to install a water line for a new reservoir. In that license agreement, the Morgantown Utility Board promised to pay for the replacement of the trees, concerned citizens say, but since then, haven’t done any work.
The Mon Valley Green Space Coalition is now leading efforts to find out why.
“I think I speak for the entire community or most of it that we’d like to see that promise that the city and BOPARC and MUB made in that agreement to start immediately,” Mark Brazaitis, Mon Valley Green Space Coalition board member said. “We don’t see any trees planted yet, so we as an organization, but also as a larger community, are wondering what’s the hold up? Why has there been such a long delay?”
In their most recent effort to find answers, the Mon Valley Green Space Coalition wrote a letter to City Councilmen Bill Kawecki asking why the process hasn’t been started yet. They said they got a response saying the city will get around to it and there are still some steps that need to be taken before work starts.
12 news reached out to the city and in a statement to us they said:
“The Morgantown Tree Board has a plan for the tree replacement remediation that includes initial placements of trees in White Park. We are working with MUB and the Tree Board to finalize this plan so that it meets the requirements under the agreement. The trail designer hired under the license agreement has completed the trail design. We expect that city staff will work with the trail designer and WVU’s Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative to prepare bidding requirements for the project, that it will be funded by MUB under the license agreement, and that we will put it out for bid this Summer or Fall for construction beginning next Spring or early Summer. We are committed to our agreement with MUB and ensuring that White Park remains one of the city’s most beautiful parks.”
The coalition said planting the trees would help the beautification of the park and would also help the environment.
“We just want to hold the city to that because there’s real concern about this situation getting worse,” Brazaitis said. “They take carbon out of the atmosphere, they’re good to combat climate change, they’re shade providers, they’re water run-off stoppers. They do all sorts of great things for the environment, in addition to offering people a nice, peaceful environment to take walks or ride a bike or run.”
The agreement also promised a new trail and a bridge, which both have also not been built yet.
“It’s a lot of devastation and there was a lot of lovely old trees here that had to be taken down and those smaller trees, while we of course want them planted, are not going to be nearly the replacement that they need to be for those larger older majestic trees,” Brazaitis said.