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Mon Commission gives Morgantown, MUB a month for Popenoe Run progress

MORGANTOWN — Members of the Monongalia County Commission said Wednesday that bad blood between the city of Morgantown and the Morgantown Utility Board seems to be delaying a project intended to prevent and/or alleviate some of the flooding experienced in and around Morgantown last summer.

Further, the commissioners said the city and MUB can either get together on the Upper Popenoe Run project or lose $1 million in county support for the work.

Commission President Tom Bloom said he felt compelled to say something after reading that MUB and the city are now bickering over details surrounding recreation at the utility’s new reservoir.  

That’s on top of an ongoing years-long back-and-forth surrounding the placement, and subsequent remediation, of a water line through White Park.

“We all want to see this project go forward. I’m not sure why it’s taken so long. It appears … it’s being held hostage to other things and those things have nothing to do with this project,” Commissioner Sean Sikora said.

In December, both the city and the county agreed to put up $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for a MUB project to restore some 3,000 feet of the Popenoe Run stream and replace 3,000 feet of 60-year-old clay sewer lines.

That project would bolster a portion of MUB’s combined system overwhelmed twice within a 50-day span last summer, causing a torrent of flood water to famously run down Patteson Drive.

Bloom said he’s willing to wait another month or so, then he’d like to see the commission reconsider its commitment.

“To me, it was a very simple solution to a very simple problem. Unfortunately, it’s eight months later and we’re still nowhere because there seems to be a problem with the city of Morgantown and MUB adding in all these other issues,” Bloom said, later stating “The citizens are the ones who are losing out.”

Sikora said he couldn’t agree more.

“We need to either move forward or find another use for those dollars. We have plenty of requests,” he said.

MUB Director of Communications Chris Dale said there is no issue on MUB’s end.

“In January, the City was asked by the County Commission to take the lead in developing an intergovernmental agreement between the County, the City and MUB.  We were last told that we would receive that agreement by the end of July, but we have yet to receive it,” Dale said. “It is MUB’s sincere hope that the grant funds remain available for the completion of this vital infrastructure project.”

During the July meeting of the MUB Board of Directors, the body approved a $420,000 contract with E.L. Robinson Engineering for planning, design, bid administration and construction monitoring of the project.

Asked about the status of the Popenoe Run project on Wednesday, Morgantown Communications Director Andrew Stacy said city administration is working through the final stages of an agreement with MUB.

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