Community, Government, Latest News, Morgantown Council

Sharps containers ordered, placement date undecided

The needle disposal boxes that will be placed at three locations in and around downtown Morgantown have been ordered.

It’s not yet known when they will be placed.

Monongalia County Health Officer, Dr. Lee Smith, penned Morgantown City Council a letter supporting the placement, which was proposed by Milan Puskar Health Right.

The letter prompted Councilor Barry Wendell to question when the boxes would be installed. Wendell has expressed frustration at the pace at which the process is moving.

“Here’s what I would suggest. My answer is going to be soon,” City Manager Paul Brake said. “I’ll tell you what. On the Feb. 4 agenda, under the city manager’s report, I’ll give you an update.”

Brake said he would confirm when the boxes would be placed at that time.

Milan Puskar Health Right approached the city last fall offering to purchase, place, maintain and empty sharps containers at three locations.

Health Right has operated a clean needle program since 2015.

Representatives of Health Right and the Morgantown Police Department have said the boxes can only improve a bad situation — city police and public works crews, Health Right personnel and neighborhood volunteers expose themselves to bloodborne pathogens and potentially lethal substances cleaning up used needles concentrated around specific locations, including under the South High Street Bridge.

In other city news, the push to build a kayak rental facility on the Walnut Street Landing as part of the riverfront overhaul is still on, but scaled back.

During the Jan. 21 council meeting, a majority of council said they didn’t have enough information to grant a request from city administration for a $300,000 to $400,000 change order to build a two-story bike/kayak rental facility.

“The original concept included the bike and kayak facility in kind of a unique sort of structure, albeit rather expensive, truthfully,” Brake said, explaining that a more modest structure would focus specifically on watersports.

The city is looking for a public or private vendor to operate the facility and has been in talks with WVU — specifically Adventure West Virginia — to that end.

Brake said if a vendor isn’t lined up by the time construction is wrapping, the city could build a pad in anticipation of a future structure.

He went on to say that now is the time to act as adding this desired amenity once construction is completed will be much more expensive.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t bring this to your attention, that there’s an opportunity. To not do anything, essentially, it’s a lost opportunity,” Brake said, explaining that he intends to bring specific details back to council.

“The thought is making this a very vibrant public space and here’s an opportunity to do that.”

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