A diverse group of business owners, local government, non-profits and concerned citizens are working together to make Morgantown better, and you can help. Join the Downtown Task Force and be a part of the solution to making Morgantown what you want it to be.

The Downtown Task Force has had three meetings in which participants had respectful, open discussions geared towards finding solutions. In the initial meeting, we brainstormed ways to improve downtown. These ideas were grouped into five categories, beautification, infrastructure, creating a public intoxication shelter, positive activities and entertainment. Participants chose which category they were most interested in, broke into groups, and discussed immediate action steps that could be taken.

At the second meeting, we identified two short term goals that we felt could have a more immediate effect on Morgantown. These goals included educating the public about better alternatives to giving money to panhandlers and creating a Community Ambassador program.

At the third meeting, we divided into two groups to decide the best ways to move forward with our short term goals. The group working on the Community Ambassador program discussed these types of programs found in other cities, such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. We discussed a few ideas of what a Community Ambassador would do. Some were most interested in people who would assist visitors with directions and guide them to shops, restaurants and attractions. Others believed that a Community Ambassador would assist in keeping the downtown clean, others believed it important that they receive training on ways to kindly ask panhandlers to leave and report occurrences of aggressive panhandling. The program will probably become a combination of these responsibilities. The group also decided that it would make an assessment of “community ambassadors” already in Morgantown, such as the police.

The group working on education is creating a media campaign to let people know that research has shown it is better to give to a non-profit that provides social services, than an individual. They will also create a card that gives the contact information for the many social programs available downtown to those in need; places to eat, places to get shelter, places to get job help, etc. The group will also be working on a survey to determine how much of a problem panhandling is in the downtown area.

To be a part of making Morgantown a better place, email John Sonnenday at ccohwv@gmail.com to learn more or just join us at a meeting on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm at the Spruce Street United Methodist Church.



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