The city is asking for feedback about proposed ward boundary changes—here’s why you should check the map.
In every even-numbered year, Morgantown’s Ward and Boundary Commission reviews the city’s seven wards for possible boundary changes. It’s a review mandated by the city’s charter, in order to keep the populations of residents and registered voters pretty close to equal among the wards.
This year, the commission is recommending some fairly significant changes, and it’s asking for your feedback.
For the most part, it doesn’t matter much if you’ve been living in the 5th ward and the boundary shifts so you’re now in the 6th. While council members deliberate with particular awareness of conditions in their home wards, they all serve the city as a whole.
But the city charter recognizes the value of that awareness of conditions in the home wards. It calls for keeping the populations of the wards as nearly equal as is practical but, at the same time, respecting the compactness of the wards. This is the part that does matter.
“For example, topography like Deckers Creek or Falling Run, there are no roads across those areas—so people do not have things in common across creeks, so to speak,” says Don Spencer, a former City Council member and deputy mayor and a member of the current Ward and Boundary Commission. If a boundary adjustment separates part of a naturally functioning neighborhood into an adjacent ward, Spencer says, “those residents’ interests are not going to be well represented.”
This year’s boundary adjustment proposal may be the fairest ever. By contrast with the manual methods used in the past, the city’s new GIS Analyst, Marvin Davis, was able to create several alternative proposals using new software that calculates the populations within proposed boundaries instantly. That made boundary tweaks simple.
So while the Ward and Boundary Commission considered the boundaries of this final proposal carefully, check the maps of current and proposed boundaries and make sure your home hasn’t inadvertently been shifted away from its natural neighborhood into a ward that doesn’t make sense for it.
The deadline for submitting feedback is August 24.