Written by: Carrie Staton
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center (NBAC) at West Virginia University (WVU), partnered with InnerAction Media (IAM) in 2019 to produce two videos that showcase Morgantown, Fairmont, Star City and the surrounding areas along the Monongahela River.
The Monongahela River, known locally as the Mon, is 130 miles and runs from North Central West Virginia to southwestern Pennsylvania. “The Mon River is a really great ecological and recreational asset with the potential to be the place where people look forward to visiting in their free time. Although the Mon Riverfront was originally developed to serve the area’s glass and coal industries, many of these facilities have been repurposed for human enjoyment. We want people to know that now they can come down to the river and eat, drink, shop, run, bike, paddle, fish, or whatever it is that adds quality to your life, because the Mon River is a place to come and play!” said Anna Withrow, Brownfield Redevelopment Specialist. “Our first goal was to educate the community on this vast resource sitting in their backyard; our second goal was to make outside visitors aware of what our Mon River Towns have to offer.”
From kayaking and biking, eating good food and drinking thirst-quenching craft beers, to spending quality time with the family at an outdoor community event featuring live concerts, there are many ways to prove that the river is not only safe but fun for all ages.
Communities along the Upper Monongahela River in Northern West Virginia share an incredible asset. These communities were developed around the turn of the 20th Century to take advantage of the waterway to support local coal, glass, and other industries which declined by the end of the Century. With the loss of many of the industries that helped grow the communities along the river, vacant industrial structures took root. Using the industrial legacy sites as an opportunity, stakeholder groups within each community are working to redevelop the Monongahela Riverfront to support local economic, recreational, and ecological opportunities for the 21st century.
The Mon River Towns Program supports the efforts of existing stakeholder groups to revitalize riverfront properties with the goal of reusing abandoned industrial properties to preserve local industrial legacies through redevelopment that creates a healthier environment and supports a more stable economy. Recognizing the advantage that the Mon River provides for commercial development, recreational trails, community sense of place, and local industries; the Mon River Towns Program promotes riverfront redevelopment that supports a variety of uses as diverse as the surrounding community, with improved physical and visual access points to the water. The NBAC received funding from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation in the summer of 2018 to continue and expand the Mon River Towns Program in Fairmont, Morgantown, and Star City, West Virginia, offering community-specific and regional resources for riverfront revitalization.
The promotional videos will be used to bring attention to the many activities, restaurants and outdoor happenings for people to enjoy along the Mon. The companies and institutions worked together, spending months and many hours on editing footage, including the use of a drone to film aerial views.
“The Mon River is so under-appreciated and underutilized. During production, I felt inspired to get out and do more on the river. Talking with people, setting up video shoots and getting out there to see what people are doing made me realize how much the river and surrounding area truly has to offer and how easy it is to access. I hope watching the video has the same effect on viewers,” said Liza Heiskell, IAM Video Producer.