Resolution on Locks Approved
Cites ways to keep recreational use viable
Morgantown Dominion Post
8 August 2012
By Ben Conley
Morgantown City Council addressed the potential loss of access to
the Monongahela River for city residents during Tuesday night’s
Council approved a resolution supporting the continued use of the
Upper Monongahela River locks and suggesting ways in which the
Army Corps of Engineers (COE) could avoid service reductions that
would restrict access to the river.
Last month, officials with the COE, which is charged with running
the locks on rivers in the region, explained that federal budget
restrictions were behind proposed reductions in service that
include making the Opekiska and Hildebrand locks accessible only
to commercial traffic, eliminating all recreational use. It also
proposed reducing the Morgantown lock from eight hours per day to
eight hours on weekends and holidays only.
The resolution, passed, 5-0, by council, urges on congressional
representatives to support funding studies on how the federal
government can partner with states and communities to fund and
operate river navigation facilities. It also supports the Upper
Mon River Association (UMRA) recommendation to add support of
recreational, river-based activities to the mission and duties of
the COE to support their operation of navigable rivers.
Among the 14 recommendations in the resolution are:
Opening of the upper Mon locks for 45 days during the April 1
through October 31 boating season, including three-day weekends to
facilitate fishing tournaments, and therefore generate revenue.
Use of contractual, temporary, part-time or seasonal employees or
auxillary volunteer methods to provide lock operators other than
full-time COE employees.
Provide means at the upper Mon locks for portage of canoes, kayaks
and other small boats, around the locks.
Explore the possibility of remote control of lockages at the upper
Mon locks from the Point Marion lock and dam.
“Recreationally, the Morgantown lock is used quite a bit for
fishing and fishing tournaments, which generates a lot of people
coming into Morgantown and spending their time and money in the
community. Plus there is a concern about commerce coming through
there,” Morgantown mayor Jim Manilla said.
“I think all of [the recommendations] are worthwhile,” councilman
Wes Nugent said. “Sometimes we think that we shouldn’t be
involved, but I think this is one that we definitely should be. It
impacts our citizens and our businesses.”
In other business, Council:
Approved a first reading of an ordinance adding a new section to
the city’s traffic code that prohibits the use of handheld
electronic devices while driving.
Approved a first reading of an ordinance requiring a city-issued
permit for the use of city infrastructure and property in motion
announced that the Morgantown Farmers Market Pavilion construction
is nearly complete. The project is expected to be finished near
the end of the month, with an opening date set for Sept. 8.
Council members Ron Bane and Jenny Selin were not in attendance.