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MUB hopes to clear Dinsmore site this year as pump station project looms

MORGANTOWN — Morgantown Utility Board General Manager Mike McNulty said he’s confident the structures on the former Dinsmore Tire property, at 195 Don Knotts Blvd., will be razed this year. 

If so, that would be about two years after the utility learned it had been awarded a $500,000 brownfield grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to remediate the site. 

A brownfield is a property complicated by the presence or potential presence of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants. 

“The EPA has to approve us going to bid. So, there will be a little bit of process there, but I think, for all parties, everything is just the way they want it now,” McNulty said. 

Once the buildings come down, the property will be “capped,” which, according to the EPA is the process of “creating or adding a barrier between the surface and contaminants by using a geotextile, a layer of clean soil or both.” 

The property sits at the northern tip of a sliver of land created by Cobun Creek and the Monongahela River. It’s positioned at the confluence of the two waterways, right next to MUB’s water treatment facility. 

The utility board announced the purchase of the 1.26-acre property in January 2019, explaining the $743,000 expenditure was needed in case expansion of the treatment facility became necessary. 

Fast forward four years and Strand Associates is currently completing a preliminary engineering report for MUB on a project to replace and improve the powerhouse of the water treatment plant — the 50-plus year old high service pump station. 

One of the four options being considered is the construction of a new pump station on a portion of the Dinsmore site. 

MUB Director of Communications Chris Dale said the engineering report will spell out the preferred option as well as how much the project is expected to cost. 

Dale said MUB would like to begin what’s expected to be an 18-month construction project in early 2025.

In past conversations about the old Dinsmore site, it was always noted that MUB was open to exploring recreational uses of the land up until the time it was needed. 

McNulty said that possibility remains. 

“We hope to keep a component for recreation, but it’s still up in the air at the moment. There’s nothing finalized,” he said. 

Either way, it’s past time to get it cleaned up. 

“It’s the worst eyesore in Morgantown, I think, on that gateway,” McNulty said. 

According to The Dominion Post archive, a fire in one of the abandoned buildings on the property resulted in a general alarm response from the Morgantown Fire Department, meaning off-duty firefighters were brought in to help battle the blaze.  

The fire occurred in March 2020.

The MFD ended up using two aerial platform trucks to suppress the flames, which started as a warming or cooking fire, according to a subsequent investigation. 

The rear section of the building’s roof, believed to have been added in the 1970s, was destroyed by fire and efforts to fight it.