By Beth Christian Broschart
The Parsons Advocate
MORGANTOWN – Folks from Parsons gathered Friday at the Erickson Alumni Center in Morgantown to review design concepts for the Shaver Shore Waterfront Project. The design presentations were made by students in the West Virginia University Landscape Architecture Class who visited the area earlier in the year to get a feel from the property.
“It was nice to be able to review and discuss each design concept with each student,” Parsons Mayor Dorothy Judy said. “You can tell that each student took a lot of time on these projects.”
Parsons City Administrator Jason Myers said there were so many awesome designs.
“We plan to take these designs and hold meetings with the different stakeholder groups and residents from within the community. Once we agree on a design, we’ll move forward with the project,” Myers said.
AmeriCorps member Sydney Haltom said the project will be a park located between Water Street and Shaver Fork up to the brick building.
“There are also two FEMA buy-out lots that are also being considered as part of the project,” Haltom said. “We have left a buffer around the existing houses so nothing is right up against the houses.”
She said the project came about through attendance at a Try-This Conference.
“We were at the conference and some of the board members who attended this began asking themselves for ways to get more Parsons residents outside and moving,” Haltom said. “The PRO ON TRAC members were walking around town one day and came across the beautiful waterfront section, and thought something should go in there.”
Haltom said Cynthia Kolsun and Debbie Stevens were the pioneers of the project.
“In the early phases, it looked more like a beach with a sand volleyball court, but that is not exactly what it has turned into,” Haltom said. “The area is currently used for strolling and enjoying the river views and the project is meant to augment the spot. The student designs will serve as a starting point and some items tossed around could be a fire pit, a walking path, interpretive signs discussing the history and environment of the area.”
Haltom said Dr. Peter Butler spoke on how university students could aid in redevelopment at a recent conference she attended.
“I approached him afterword and mentioned the park idea that PRO had been kicking around. He became interested in it and assigned it to his students as a design project. He is a landscape architecture professor at WVU.”
Haltom said the class came to Parsons to visit the site of the proposed park on April 1 and talked to folks around time.
“They presented their designs on Friday,” Haltom said. “I think this spot will be a jewel of a spot for both residents and visitors, especially since it is just around the corner from the center of town.”
Haltom said the next step to bringing the project to fruition will be to seek a final design and find funding. “There are a couple of grant opportunities that have funded projects in the past.”
She said the group wanted folks to know that they understand the area is prone to flooding.
“We understand the area is prone to flooding and the design will take that into account,” Haltom said. “Much of Parsons is in a flood-hazard zone. That does not need to be a barrier to developing the site for recreational use. There are no existing homes to consider – all the land is already owned by the City of Parsons.”