The West Virginia Land Trust, in partnership with the Mon Valley Green Space Coalition, BOPARC, and the City of Morgantown, are pleased to announce the creation of Morgantown’s newest public trail – the Marilla Park Connector. The trail is just over 0.5 miles in length and greatly improves access to Marilla Park from the South Hills neighborhood. As a critical link in a larger connector trail system that will connect Greenmont to Marilla and the Deckers Creek Rail-Trail, the trail has been “a labor of hard work and love” according to Dr. Rick Landenberger, WVLT Science and Land Management Specialist who designed the trail and led the volunteer groups.
Dr. Brent Bailey, West Virginia Land Trust Executive Director and local trail advocate points out that “Local trails are one of the most popular community features that people look for when deciding where to live. The West Virginia Land Trust supports their development, and not just on its own properties. This connector works on so many levels: for recreation, for education, for alternative transportation. Morgantown is lucky to have the properties and the people that make this possible.”
The idea to better connect the southern neighborhoods of Morgantown to the Parks and Rail-Trails started two decades ago when Greg Good, then President of the Mon Valley Green Space Coalition, and Landenberger, then a Ph.D. student in the WVU Forest Resources Science program, began scouting the area for possible routes from the local neighborhoods to schools and parks. Recently, Landenberger picked the project back up, forming a partnership with the Mon Valley Green Space Coalition, BOPARC, and the City of Morgantown
According to Assistant City Manager Emily Muzzarelli “We’ve been continually working to expand our trail network and enhance outdoor recreation in the City. Now, more than ever, we see just how important these resources are to the community. It has been fantastic to see the efforts from volunteers and citizens to complete this project in Marilla Park.”
Landenberger began working in summer 2016 with young volunteers from the BOPARC YETI (Youth Engagement Through Involvement) Summer Camp program. Other volunteer groups include the Charlie’s Angels Hash House Harriers and WVU iServe students.
“Success in many areas is largely dependent upon partnerships such as the one represented by this project. This trail is a wonderful addition to our City park system and we are excited to share it with the community”, said BOPARC’s Director Melissa Burch.
“Cooperation among the partners facilitated the timely completion of this trail project,” commented Dr. JoNell Strough, current chair of the Mon Valley Green Space Coalition. “By working together, we built a trail that not only serves community needs for transportation and recreation, but also provides a space for people to put their cares aside as they take in the beauty of the forest.”
For more information, contact WVLT Land Management and Science Specialist Rick Landenberger at email@example.com.