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Cameras going up downtown, warming shelter ‘crisis’ looming

MORGANTOWN — Morgantown City Manager Kim Haws said about half of the surveillance cameras purchased by the city have been installed downtown. 

During a Tuesday evening report to city council, Haws said four cameras have been installed in each of four locations, including the Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park, High Street’s intersections with both Walnut and Pleasant streets and the Met Theatre, which serves as the technical hub of the camera network. 

Another seven cameras  have been installed at 430 Spruce Street, covering that building, Morgantown Market Place and Morgantown City Hall. 

Four more cameras will come online this week at the intersection of High and Fayette streets. 

The city used $77,000 in American Rescue Plan Act dollars to purchase 49 cameras to serve as a deterrent and assist enforcement downtown.  

According to information provided by the city, installation will likely run another $7,500 plus $65,000 for network support. 

Haws said the cameras can and will be monitored live.  

“There are 26 more cameras to be installed in the downtown area. We’ve added a couple locations that were not initially part of this, and a lot of them will be focused on what we call “hot spots,” like there at Health Right. There are going to be a number of cameras that go both ways down Wall Street as well as two other alleys within the downtown area,” Haws said.  

In other news from Tuesday’s meeting, Councilor Danielle Trumble warned of a looming crisis regarding a winter warming shelter.   

Trumble said thus far the city has set aside $40,000 for a shelter and the county has put up $10,000, but no shelter location has been secured and no organization has stepped up to lead that effort. 

Last winter, Hazel’s House of Hope stepped in to host the shelter and was quickly overwhelmed as some 60 individuals were spread throughout the building nightly.  

When the shelter closed on March 15, it was made clear H3 was not a good fit for the warming shelter and would not serve that purpose again.   

Trumble said H3 will expand day room hours over the winter and that efforts to line up a suitable location for overnight accommodations are ongoing. 

“Hopefully, we end up with something, but everyone just needs to be aware that it’s going to be a tough winter here right now,” she said. 

Lastly, Weez’s Way has gone by the wayside. 

Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to create a pedestrian pathway between Overhill and Morgan streets, but it will not be named Weez’s Way after Councilor Louise ‘Weez’ Michael as previously suggested. 

While Michael said she appreciated both the suggestion and support from her fellow councilors, she and the neighborhood preferred Lavender Way, which was cleared by MECCA 911 and approved by council.