Government, Latest News, Morgantown Council

Morgantown City Council discusses what reopening downtown will look like

You can come downtown if you want — but you’re still going to have to keep your distance.

That was the word from Morgantown City Council on Tuesday night as it met remotely in regular session to discuss, mainly, the business of managing people in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “management” part, in this case, meaning ways to keep citizens as safe as possible in the city, post-Stay at Home.

Council voted 7-0 to extend Gov. Jim Justice’s earlier state of emergency declaration through Sept. 25. The measure will temporarily reduce restrictions on outdoor dining and parking downtown as restaurants and retailers begin once again courting patrons.

Free parking will remain downtown for now, and the city has started a collaboration with Main Street Morgantown — “To make this a workable program,” Morgantown Mayor Bill Kawecki said.

A workable program proceeding with caution, interim city manager Emily Muzzarelli said.

And, hopefully, face masks, she added.

“We need to be aware that the pandemic is far from over.”
While some city buildings will begin reopening on Tuesday of next week, social distancing will still be enforced, she said.

The numbers of people allowed in waiting areas and lobbies will be limited, she said, and not all offices and areas will be open to the public.

“It’s going to look different,” she said.

Some staff will move back into their offices in City Hall starting Tuesday, she said, while others will continue to work from home.

The city is also extending its outdoor dining program through Aug. 31 to include all restaurants in Morgantown.

That includes allowances for tables and chairs, plus expanded parking opportunities.

Restaurants, Muzzarelli said, still must complete an application and provide a simple line-drawing detailing their requested dining space.

The application is available online at the city’s COVID-19 website.

In other business, the city also received a $69,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to cover payroll and other operational costs at Hart Field, as commuter flight traffic has been grounded by COVID-19.

TWEET @DominionPostWV