Checking in with city manager Kim haws
Kim Haws joined Morgantown city administration in December 2020 (check out our initial story here), fresh off a run as city manager of Bridgeport that earned him respect across the state. We caught up with Haws to learn about his first eight months’ challenges and his upcoming goals.
On top of coming on during a pandemic, Haws arrived at a time when the city and a broad coalition of social services groups had gotten serious about finding solutions for unsheltered homelessness and problem substance use. The city took the lead in developing the Hope Hill Sobering Center, where a user can safely come down from drink or drugs and be evaluated for referral. The search for an executive director is underway, Haws says, and the sobering center should open in the fall. The city is also working with to site sharps containers for the disposal of used needles.
Downtown beautification is rebounding from the pandemic, Haws says. Visible recent city and city-involved projects include the Spruce Street pocket park and several murals. Regular power washing of downtown facades and sidewalks is also under discussion. And outdoor dining downtown remains to be hoped for. The city is working with Gibbie’s on High Street, he says, to install a demonstration “pedlet”—a solution that temporarily allocates some parking as pedestrian pathway, preserving sidewalk for dining. “We’re hoping that, once people see the pedlet at Gibbie’s, others will request them.”
Haws’ one-year goals include the specific—make ready for the airport runway extension, develop a strategy for one-time federal stimulus resources—and the general—establish the foundation that Morgantown is a friendly and professional place to do business.
In two years, he plans for completion of updates to Marilla Pool and the Morgantown Ice Arena. Other 2022 objectives are the dry stuff that makes a city hum: revise personnel policies, streamline purchasing. And still others are an elevation of important values: ensuring the city is an integral, ongoing part of reducing unsheltered homelessness and revitalizing downtown.
To businesses that are considering locating downtown, Haws touts the close community of entrepreneurs and professionals, the vibrant student culture, and the Main Street feel—as well as Opportunity Zone and Facade Improvement Program incentives.
To residents who haven’t visited downtown in a while, he says the city and businesses are working together to make downtown safe, clean, and fun, and, by supporting downtown businesses, you can be part of it. “What are you waiting for?”