Local resident Diana Suttenfield shared some concerns over the condition of Town Run in general and the Run within the confines of Morgan's Grove Park in particular in an interview this week. A member of what was dubbed "Friends of Morgan's Grove Park" in 1988 at its inception, Suttenfield said that one of the goals of the group was to clean up Town Run.
"It's 25 years later and we're still talking about it," Suttenfield said. In the meantime, the stream is being neglected, she said.
While it is the entire Run that is of concern, the portion that runs through Morgan's Grove Park and its general vicinity face some specific problems that Suttenfield said should be addressed. The Run, she said, should have a wider buffer around it to protect it from run off of materials that cause contamination in the water or a collection of materials that jam the water flow.
One instance that Suttenfield pointed to was an area within the park, along the walking trail, where a wooden footbridge sits directly atop the stream.
"That bridge should have been higher, possibly with conduits beneath it," Suttenfield said, pointing to another bridge along the park's walking trail that was built higher. In addition, gravel from higher elevations also continually washes downhill and lodges into the run at the inadequate bridge's location.
Morgan's Grove Park is owned by the Shepherdstown Community Club and overseen by the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Department.
Tom Huddleston, president of the SCC, shared that on June 25, a park clean up and planting day took place where volunteers gathered to clean out a portion of the Run as well as plant shade trees along the route of the Run and a group concentrated near the stone Spring House.
"The trainees cleared the stream from the outside of the Spring House for about 30 yards," Huddleston said. "While that's not a long way, it took time to remove tree limbs and other invasive grasses growing in the water and becoming overgrown," he sahred.
Huddleston said that a second work day is scheduled with the Emerging Leaders from Shepherd University on Aug. 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. as part of their Day of Service.
"We expect a minimum of 14 students and some adult club volunteers and we will be concentrating on the stream/Run, as well as a few people staining and painting the new safety railing at the park pavilion."
Jennifer Myers, director of the county's Parks and Recreation, said that her staff will work with the Community Club to address the problems of overgrowth in the Run within the park as well as work to replace the bridge in question.
Huddleston indicated that at present, there are no plans to rebuild the foot bridge, mostly because of monetary concerns.
"I have looked at it and agree that it is low to the water and could flood and be a problem. It should be replaced."
He went on to say that the Club has requested grant money from Jefferson County for Morgan's Grove Park improvements. They hope to hear about the request in the near future.
Huddleston said that the SCC Board was not aware of the gravel run off problem until contacted about this story, but that the group now has it on their radar to look at the situation and come up with possible solutions.
While the SCC's efforts to address some issues directly within the park's portion of Town Run will be helpful, there are other issues Suttenfield pointed out that may need attention from other sources.
Potential chemical contamination from additives added to the park's soccer fields may be flowing into the Run as may chemicals from gardening areas around the Run but not within the park.
"Is there any oversight?" Suttenfield wondered out loud.
As construction moves ahead with the Morgan's Grove Market project, additional bulldozing may cause further destruction of the Run. Suttenfield said that she believes that the Run has come to be in the shape it is in now because of past bulldozing projects whether it be construction, flattening of the parkland to create soccer fields, or a simple lack of a buffer to ward off harmful contaminants.
"We need to be good stewards of our natural resources," Suttenfield said. "Town Run is the secondary water source for the town," she continued.
"My goal here," she said, "is to get the Community Club, the county and the state to clean up Town Run." The benefits of a total clean up would be there for all.