MORGANTOWN — Monongalia County Commission meetings don’t typically draw a crowd.
Fitting, as the commission officially announced its campaign to secure up to $95 million to improve access to Mylan Park, a campaign bolstered by the expertise, resources and support of a crowd of people far larger than Wednesday’s audience.
As previously reported, the grant funds are being sought through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s’ INFRA Grant program and would be used to extend the West Virginia Division of Highways’ $66 million improvement of I-79 Exit 155 west to Mylan Park by creating a new, four-lane connection to the park as well as a pedestrian/bike path that would connect the park to the area’s existing trail system.
“This is not just about Monongalia County,” Commission President Tom Bloom said, explaining Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin alerted the county to the creation of the then-unnamed grant program some nine months back.
Since that time, the commission, working closely with developer WestRidge, secured some 20 letters of support from local, state and federal officials, as well as a number of entities like Monongalia County Schools, The Gateway development, the Morgantown Area Partnership, Mylan Park and others.
WestRidge also assembled a high-production value pitch for USDOT decision makers, some of which was presented Wednesday.
In one of the videos included as part of county’s application, Bloom explains the explosion of development, jobs and revenue being generated by WestRidge, as well as the variety of programming, facilities and experiences available down the road at Mylan Park, is unlike anything the county has ever had before.
But, he continues, “There is one thing that is continually lacking, and that is infrastructure.”
Mylan Park Executive Director Terri Howe is featured in another video. She points out the 400-acre park has become the local destination for not only recreation, but health, wellness, sports and education, all while sitting on a narrow, winding, two-lane road.
“One of the issues we’ve had over the years is having the infrastructure and the ability for members of our community to get to the park,” Howe explains. “It’s unimaginable how much more we can grow and how much better it can be for our community … The sky’s the limit.”
The information included in the county’s grant application for the I-79 Chaplin Hill Gateway Project is available at i79chaplinhillgatewayproject.com.