MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Morgantown Utility Board heard a presentation about a study into developing a water feature on Deckers Creek and adopted the budget for the 2024–25 year.

President of Main Street Morgantown Mark Downs and downtown business owner L.J. Giuliani told the board they’re working with Lyons, Colorado-based S20, a well-known creator of white water parks throughout the country.

Downs said the study area is from Deckers Creek, just beyond the Kroger, to the mouth of the Monongahela River. The study was paid for by Delegate Evan Hansen, D. Monongalia, 79, the Monongalia County Commission, and the city of Morgantown.

“We’re very fortunate in Morgantown to have an asset like Deckers Creek,” Downs said. “A tributary running adjacent to our downtown and through so many neighborhoods and available as a recreational and natural asset.”

Giuliani said the synergy of development has been taken away from downtown, and this is a way to get people back to downtown. The untapped potential of the neighboring area was compared to a “botanical garden” that could be developed into a natural feature in the neighborhood area and leading into downtown.

“How do we redirect the focus back to downtown Morgantown in a way that is an asset for our neighborhoods, and we want to go beyond that—a destination?” Giuliani said.

The 25-year battle with acid mine drainage continues, but has been brought under control with the Richard Acid Mine Drainage Treatment Facility on Pass Creek Lane. But still a concern for the future of the idea are the old combined sewer overflows (CSO) that are gradually being addressed by MUB. MUB is currently working with Strand Associates, Inc., on a long-term CSO control plan.

Downs said they will want to review the plan as it is made available.

“I think we’re starting to turn the corner now with the acid mine drainage site that’s online in Richard,” Downs said. “We’ve seen near-immediate results in terms of that.”

Downs said Deckers Creek would never compete with the New or Gauley Rivers, but it would be an attraction that could draw people to the area.

“That’s not going to be Deckers Creek, but could it be like a lazy river? Absolutely,” Downs said. “When flows reach 1,000 cfs on occasion, could there be class III rapids? Absolutely.”

Giuliani used the growth of the Ruby Amphitheater and the current crowds that make the trip to Morgantown each week. As more amenities are added, Morgantown becomes more than a place to watch a concert or a WVU game; it can become a destination where people can plan multiple activities over the course of a weekend.

“The next day they might get on an inner tube and get on Deckers Creek,” Giuliani said. “Those are the amenities we need to create to identify ourselves as more than a college town.”

The board also approved the budget for 2024–25, which includes a 3-percent rate increase. The $39.1 million plan ($17 million for water, $18 million for sewer, $2.3 million for storm sewer, and $1.8 million from the current Cheat Lake Waste Water Treatment Plant) accounts for a 15-percent increase in medical insurance costs, a 15.7 percent increase in liability insurance, a 3 percent cost of living increase across the board, $27,000 to put cameras in all vehicles, and an unspecified amount for random drug testing. The budget also provides for $50,000 in additional wage increases following a recent wage market study.

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