Morgantown council approves conversion therapy ban, approves deal with DOH for Beechurst improvements

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Morgantown City Code will now see changes to its Human Rights Ordinance and an agreement has been reached between the City of Morgantown and the West Virginia Department of Highways over a Sunnyside road project.

Those topics, were the main focus of the discussions during Morgantown City Council’s regular meeting Tuesday, with a large amount of the focus directed towards changes to the City’s Human Rights Ordinance. The change, includes the prohibition of the practice of conversion therapy, a controversial practice that attempts to convert LBTGQ+ persons, within city limits.

“I hope that this is in addition to being a good step, but a reminder that there’s still a great deal of work to do when it comes to supporting the most marginalized people,” said Morgantown Resident and ACLU Representative Mollie Kennedy during the meeting in support of the ordinance.

The call to add language involving conversion therapy into the City of Morgantown’s Human Rights Ordinance, has been active over the past few months. Since the proposal was brought forward by the Morgantown Human Rights Commission, representatives from organizations such as Fairness WV and LGTBQ+ advocates have spoken during meetings in support of the ordinance. The support carried over ahead of council’s unanimous vote, with several speakers voicing their views during the public portion of the meeting.

“It is a dangerous and discredited practice that is opposed by all the major medical associations nationally and within our state,” said Fairness West Virginia Executive Director Andrew Schneider during the meeting.

Council also unanimously approved an agreement between the City of Morgantown and the West Virginia Department of Highways involving a corridor improvement project on Beechurst Avenue and on Campus Drive. The project, includes improvements that will improve traffic flow by adding a turn lane, drainage and add some sidewalks, stemmed from a superficial addition around the project. Despite concerns over previous projects involving the city and the Department of Highways, the new improvement project was approved without major dispute.

“I really appreciate the additional information and the willingness for all of these groups to work together, because it’s not easy to work with Division of Highways, WVU and the City,” said Morgantown Mayor Jenny Selin in support of the project.

The project will tie into improvements to Beechurst Avenue as part of the construction of the new West Virginia University Reynolds Hall.

Morgantown City Manager, Kim Haws, also addressed future funds that are scheduled to be incoming to the city via American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The expected over $11.2 million that is scheduled to be directed towards the city, has multiple committees in place by the City of Morgantown. The goal is that by November, when the first bit of ARPA funds are expected to arrive to the city, discussions for the next major revenue source for the city will be up for discussion by Morgantown City Council as soon as it’s available.

“And we’re getting a lot of traction, a lot of interest in the plan that was developed,” said Haws. “Some of the plans, some of the specific fund allocations, will actually begin occurring as early as November 15,” he said.