Government, Latest News, Monongalia County

Mon Commission pulls plug on sledding hill tow system, approves Holland Avenue funding

MORGANTOWN — The Monongalia County Commission said Wednesday that without significant intervention from Mother Nature, it’s pulling the plug on the newly installed tow lift system at the Chestnut Ridge Park sledding hill this winter.

The hill has become a bit of slippery slope for the commission since spending $170,470 in 2019 to purchase a three-phase generator with snow-making attachment and 300-foot tubing tow lift for the purpose of turning the hill into a winter recreation hot spot.

But it became quickly apparent that the geometry of the hill was all wrong for such a setup. The commission contracted engineering firm Tetra Tech for $24,800 to design the reshaped slope and hired Anderson Excavating for $199,999 to carry out that design.

That work is complete and the system is installed, but an issue remains.

“What was immediately noticed was the way the line sags,” Commissioner Sean Sikora said, explaining that without as much as 18 inches of snow in some places, the tow system could detach from riders midway up the hill.

Tetra Tech took a look at the finished product and commented that while it’s “less than ideal and is not in accordance with design specification it is not anticipated to affect the functionality of the lift.”

Not good enough, said the commission.

The body intends to work with Anderson and Tetra Tech to figure out what happened. In the event that there’s enough snow to make the system work properly, it may see action this winter. Otherwise sledders will be getting back to the top the old-fashioned way. 

“If we try to go in and fix it right now, first off, someone is going to pay for it because they screwed up … But if we go in there in November and tear it up, then the whole hill will be out for any sled riding,” Sikora said, later adding, “Obviously the buck stops here. We had to make a tough decision for liability reasons and shut it down until the experts tell us it’s ok.”

In other news from Wednesday’s meeting, the commission followed through on its commitment of $125,000 in American Rescue Plan Act dollars for Westover’s Holland Avenue project.

The work will address about 2,000 feet of Holland Avenue, including failing sanitary sewer and stormwater lines beneath the street’s surface and the large retaining wall that runs along its lower portion.

The city is currently about $1.6 million short of the project’s $3.8 million estimated total. Westover plans to use all of its $1.9 million ARPA allocation for the project.

 In addition to getting Westover closer to funding the project, the commission’s financial involvement is viewed as the kind of wider support that could help grant applications.

“We’ve discussed this and find this to be a very-important project. Anyone who’d gone across Holland Avenue realizes the challenges that are faced by both your suspension and your vertebrae as you go across it,” Commissioner Jeff Arnett said, adding, “Westover has allocated their full ARPA allocation to this project, so this isn’t something where they don’t have a whole lot of skin in the game.”

TWEET @DominionPostWV