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The original streetscape, Wall Street once again a topic of downtown discussion

Morgantown — Before Pleasant Street or Walnut Street, there was Wall Street.

The original streetscape project.

In 1994 it was dubbed “a street to build on” and “the cornerstone for future downtown revitalization” by city officials and this newspaper.

This in the wake of a $200,000 investment by the city to turn the alley connecting Spruce, High and Chestnut streets into a pedestrian showcase complete with a brick walkway, gas lighting, antique park benches and plantings.

It even got its own minipark. A plaque on the stone retaining wall bordering the Aull Center property commemorates the dedication of Sadie Crow Park, named for the mother of Elizabeth Crow Lewin and Virginia Crow Stecker, who owned the home-turned history/genealogy center at the time. Sadie was also the daughter of Aaron and Rebecca Garlow, the couple who built the home in 1907.

But fast forward some 30 years and the words used to describe Wall Street have changed — loitering, trespassing, trash, rodents.

“We’re concerned about the condition of Wall Street which was, at one time, planned to be the entranceway, the inviting street into all of downtown from the city parking lot,” Lucien Lewin told Morgantown City Council during its most recent regular meeting.

The Aull Center property and Milan Puskar Health Right bracket the top of Wall Street at its Spruce Street intersection. That corner, extending up Spruce Street to the Morgantown Public Library, is a common gathering spot for people loitering downtown.   

Lewin, who now lives in Martinsburg, owns two buildings on Wall Street.

He asked the city to give the alley-turned-walkway some much-needed attention, explaining that trash left along the corridor as well as trash left by individuals trespassing on property behind the library is attracting rodents.

He said many of the bricks have also fallen into disrepair.

Assistant City Manager Emily Muzzarelli said the city is working on a Wall Street project running from Spruce to Chestnut, hopefully starting in the upcoming 2024 fiscal year.

“We have been working with an architecture firm, Michael Mills, Mills Group, and kind of revamping that — obviously addressing some of the conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles on the Spruce Street side but also improving lighting on that street,” Muzzarelli said, noting the project aims to “bring back the vibrancy of what was intended and make it something that is a little easier to maintain.”

She said getting the area cleaned up is another priority.

“There are definitely areas throughout the downtown that collect trash more frequently and we’re trying to figure out some solutions for those as well,” she said.

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