The WVU Community Design Team has worked in over 40 communities over the past 12 years, according to Jennifer Selin, Community Design Team coordinator with the Division of Resource Management at West Virginia University.

“It is one of the tangible ways that professors and students form a team with community members to create a more vibrant community and address the issues that community members care about,” she explained.

“During this visit, interested community members attended two different community meetings on Friday, went on walking and boating tours and then joined the team on Saturday to further refine designs and plans.”

“Engaged community members from throughout the community select a few first steps to get started,” Selin added. “The steps might include planning toward a long-term project or something that can be accomplished right away.

“In Montgomery, (the) mayor, hospital and higher education leaders, business owners, the religious community, the beautification group and others are making their choices right now. The idea is to form an action team to keep the momentum going.”

Meanwhile, WVU representatives are considering ways to support the effort, she added. “These might include class projects or individual researchers gathering and mapping information for water or hiking trails and corridors.”

In addition, first steps are being taken toward downtown improvements and connections between the city’s numerous assets including the river, Bridgemont and WVU Tech, Montgomery General Hospital, the municipal pool area and the core business community downtown. “Creating corridors to connect these assets would help promote the POW idea (park once and walk) cited by one Montgomery team member during the weekend meetings.”

Another possibility is utilizing the WVU LTAP program in Engineering, which provides local and technical assistance to communities that want to improve car, bicycle and pedestrian flow, such as in Montgomery. Opportunities exist to match students from WVU in Morgantown and WVU Tech, Selin noted.

“Team members were impressed by the huge number of assets in Montgomery,” she concluded. “Many of them had never been to Montgomery before and truly appreciate the hospitality, history and beauty of the Upper Kanawha Valley and Montgomery in particular.

“We look forward to collaborating in the future as this process moves forward.”

— Steve Keenan

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