About two years have gone by since West Virginia University Professor Margaret Stout first brought her students to Moundsville to help the community work on its development plan and help get it moving with improvement projects.
On Friday, her last group of students gave one final presentation on their findings and project proposals.
"We are now wrapping up our formal partnership with the community," Stout said to community leaders Friday. "You guys have all the information you need to run with this."
WVU graduate student Alyssa Keely said she has worked on the Moundsville improvement project for a long time. She said each new semester for the past two years, a new group of students took Stout's class and came to Moundsville to help draft the city's comprehensive plan.
Keely worked on a project dedicated to creating a historic guided walking tour of the town with partners Matthew Pauley and Grant White. The tour would utilize mobile devices to give visitors information of different historic landmarks around town following a designated walking trail.
"I was actually really impressed with how the community responded," Keely said. "We had an incredible amount of involvement. This is what the community wanted, so it has the potential to be implemented."
Graduate students Margrit Blakely and Festus Manly-Spain presented a revitalization project of U.S. 250 going through Moundsville. The project would involve rezoning and redevelopment of property in the area.
"I do believe it's going to work," Manly-Spain said. "But it is going to take a lot of effort."
"The state needs to work on the transportation issue," Blakely added. "There are certainly resources to be tapped into."
Overall, Stout said the students and program managers have met with mixed to positive reactions to their efforts. She said some people even opposed the projects. Stout said she noticed an increase in community involvement and hopes that means attitudes are changing.
When the walking tour project called for over $600,000 in infrastructure repair and construction, students were met with silence in the question-and-answer portion of their presentation. Stout warned community leaders that she sees such projects as inevitable.
"In all West Virginia towns your size and larger, the infrastructure is crumbling," Stout said. "Lawsuits are beginning to be filed. Liability is coming back to the cities."
Also departing this summer is Tyler Poliquin, an Americorps Vista employee who worked with the city on his Main Street project, which calls for more efficient management of heavy truck traffic, improved pedestrian facilities and promotion of historical preservation. Moundsville Councilman Dave Wood said the city is considering searching for a replacement to finish after Poliquin is gone.
Community leaders said they thought the projects would be good for community but not easy by any means.
"The different city wards will have to take a lot of this on," Moundsville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Knuth said. "There will have to be a lot of volunteerism."
"I think the projects have a lot of merit and value," Wood said. He mentioned the deadline for the final Moundsville Comprehensive Plan is June 1, 2014. He said the comprehensive plan project is not only beneficial but required by state law.
"It will happen. It has to happen," Wood said.
Graduate student Katy Moran, whose team proposed turning a bridge replacement project on W.Va. 2 into a viaduct with access to the riverside rail trail with artwork displayed, said she believes in the community.
"Moundsville needs the confidence to understand that they are capable of achieving great things," Moran said.