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Star City works to revitalize riverfront with new park

STAR CITY— Local residents and recreation-enthusiasts are working with Star City officials to make the Star City Riverfront Park a place for everyone to enjoy.

Mayor Herman Reid said members of the community, the council, Morgantown North Rotary club and the Morgantown Area Paddlers (MAP) are coming together to revitalize the riverfront and bring new life to the park.

“The riverfront is really starting to look good down there,” he said. “We’ve been putting some hotel/motel money into that for tourism and stuff.

“Mary Wimmer — she’s a retired lady who is a kayaker. She’s the head of the MAP (Morgantown Area Paddlers. She’s had volunteers, and she’s raised money. She’s really helped out Star City.”
Reid said the new kayak launch project, put together with the help of MAP and the Morgantown North Rotary club, was the first part of a series of projects set to revitalize the riverfront area.

He said in October, volunteers from Dominion Energy helped clean up the riverfront area, and Dominion Energy donated $2,500 toward stain, rock to stabilize the bank and materials.
Wimme said Dominion Energy also donated “three permanent pilings to put in at the dock.”
“Right now there are three temporary pilings holding the dock and the kayak launch in place. We are going to replace those with permanent pilings like the ones we have at Van Voorhis,” she said.

Reid said the next phase of the project involves making improvements to the handicapped fishing pier and fixing the cement under the boat ramp.

“That’s going to be about a $20,000 project,” he said.

Reid said the city hopes to help pay for the project with money from the new riverboat project coming to Morgantown. They are in discussions with the Army Corps of Engineers to make it happen.

Reid said another part of the project will hopefully involve improve the road so it will be easier for boats to get down to the boat launch. He said the current way in, owned by Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) in its Wastewater Treatment plant expansion into the old 84 Lumber, has a sharp turn that makes it difficult for boat owners to get to the water.

He said they are looking at improving Leeway Street.

Reid said, “That’s a project that my guys can do, but it would be nice to have the money for it because we will have to dig the grass out, do it at an angle, then pack limestone down. After it settles, then we will have a company come in and blacktop it.”

Wimmer said she decided to get involved in the next phase of the revitalization project even though she does not live in Star City, but she wants to see the riverfront restored.

“I live close to Star City, so I decided I wanted to see the riverfront improved down there,” she said. “There was a lot of erosion along the riverbank. The parking lot was kind of a mess in terms of traffic flow. There’s really not a good layout in terms of parking.”

Wimmer said the project members and town worked with WVU Professor Vaike Haas’ landscaping architecture class to develop plans for beautification of the riverfront area.

“[Haas] has done a number of projects around the city to really improve outdoor recreation,” she said. “So, her class did up draft designs, and we showed some to the public.”
After gathering public feedback, a hybrid design was decided on, taking the top features.

“Next year, we already have a landscaper, Mike Biafore, who is going to be working with us, and we are going to be putting vegetation along the riverbank,” she said. “We are going to be putting some trees in. We are also going to be doing tree-planting along other parts of the park.

She said work is also planned for the parking lot next year. She’d also like to see picnic tables and more play areas for children.

Reid said Star City is also working with BOPARC on another project for the future.

“[They’ve] worked with us on the rails and trails,” he said. “Eventually, we want to have a trail connector go underneath the Star City bridge, up to the boulevard, and it’s going to be a bike path.

“That way, you can park at the Coliseum, get on your bike, and ride down the bike path,” he said.