Students Present Ideas to City Leaders

MOUNDSVILLE – Community leaders gathered Friday to hear from John Marshall High School and West Virginia University students taking part in the Unifying Moundsville comprehensive plan project.

Councilman David Wood has been one of the driving force behind the Unifying Moundsville project. The purpose of the meeting, Wood said, was to develop a mission and goals that would align with the comprehensive plan project.

John Marshall students Hayden Blazer, Hailee McClelland and Alexa Richards had explored the Moundsville area, taking pictures of both positive and negative parts of the landscape and conducting surveys to find out what people thought about the status of the community.

“We think that we’re doing really well, but we can do better,” said Blazer.

Acknowledging the value of familiar landmarks such as the former West Virginia Penitentiary and Grave Creek Mound, the students said they would like to see vacant land developed. They also believe campers occupied by workers in the oil and gas industry present an issue that needs to be addressed.

“Campers have their place, but it’s not right in your backyard,” said Blazer.

He suggested the development of an area outside the downtown where campers could be set up as living quarters without the problem of crowding.

Meanwhile, the WVU students had their own methods of research, as well as their own theories for redevelopment. Led by their professor, Margaret Stout, the graduate students have been working with community leaders and the public to find ways to improve the infrastructure, economy and recreational opportunities of the area.

According to Katy Moran, one of Stout’s students, this has been an ongoing, non-paid class experience for academic credit. During the past semester, the students went out into the field in the Moundsville area to do surveys and discover what the area needed. They then took the issues they found and put them into project form.

Once community leaders either approve or reject their ideas, the next semester will be spent researching how to implement their plans and writing grants to obtain the funding.

The students organized their projects according to separate issues. First, they encouraged government and public cooperation, a reformation of the transportation system, development of parks for recreation and cosmetic purposes, and the preservation of historic buildings while dilapidated ones are torn down.

“This is the point where we stop planning and start taking action,” said Stout.