Morgantown Blows $515,440 of Taxpayer Funds on House Renovation at Dorsey's Knob Park

This is Part 2 of our Dorsey's Knob Lodge investigation.

WVMAD requested financial records for the past 2 years of taxpayer expenses at Dorsey's Knob Lodge, a city-owned house in the middle of Dorsey's Knob Park.

From a $174,556 uncovered deck to over $5,000 in wallpaper, BOPARC went on a wild spending spree from 2022-2023.

Some locals have questioned BOPARC's leadership abilities and asked, was this really the best use of taxpayer funds?

Questionable quality discovered at finished project, did Morgantown get ripped off?

Mere months after the work was completed, we found various items at the Lodge already falling apart.

After spending $500K+, you would expect BOPARC leadership to review the work before signing the check. We have an email out to BOPARC's Executive Director Melissa Wiles and Assistant Director Marissa Travinski for comment, which will be updated here if they respond.

Here's what we found after a couple minutes of walking around the completed Lodge:

  • Screws and nails scattered throughout landscaping
  • Defective wavy boards
  • Crooked railings
  • Uneven gaps
  • Chipped boards
  • Damaged siding
  • Scraped paint
  • Rusting metal
  • Busted trim pieces

While inspecting the deck, WVMAD's photographer tripped over a deck board sticking up above all the other boards. We found at least 2 hidden trip hazards on the brand new, completed deck. 

Mismanagement and recklessness: Spending $515,440 of taxpayer money on this house robs our community of funds for more important needs

BOPARC rents the Lodge to the public for $3,200 per week or an 8-hour daytime rental for $400.

The biggest problem is the Lodge's capacity. Only 40 people are allowed per fire code.

According to BOPARC's website, the lodge has a 4-seat breakfast nook, an 8-person kitchen table, 12 bar stools, and a living area with 12 seats.

In total, the Lodge has 36 seats scattered throughout the house. This could make even a small children’s birthday party problematic, with guests dispersed in different rooms. Moreover, with only 36 seats, 4 out of 40 guests would have to sit on the floor.

BOPARC says renters can enjoy a "relaxed mountaintop atmosphere." But surprisingly, the $174K deck outside the Lodge is uncovered with zero shade for hot days. Even worse, the house and deck directly border the park's busy road. The road is the only way in, so renters will have to deal with a constant stream of exhaust fumes and car doors slamming at the adjacent parking lots.

The extravagant investment in the Lodge is a tough sell for taxpayers, as there are few who wish to pay $3,200 a week to rent a small house situated in Morgantown’s most crowded public park.

One could argue most residents of Morgantown will never use the Lodge due to the extreme capacity limitations, cost, and lack of privacy.

A better alternative: The half-a-million Dollars could have built a large event building at Dorsey's Knob

If Morgantown had better leadership within BOPARC and city hall, we could have spent this money in a way that adds the most value. The average wedding size is 117 guests, according to the 2022 Real Weddings Study. Therefore, BOPARC's claim that the 36-seat Lodge can host weddings is completely unrealistic.

Sky Rock Pavilion and the Lodge buildings are so close to the main park area (including the trails and playground) that the rental guests disrupt the park-goers. Similarly, park-goers disrupt the rental guests. With over 70 acres available, a new event building could have been built far enough away to not disturb one another.

One idea is a barn-style events building rented cheaply or at-cost to give local families an affordable indoor location for game day parties, weddings, reunions, concerts, seminars, festivals, entertainment and other events.

Would that not be a better use of $500K taxpayer monies to enrich our community?

According to ProjectionHub, a financial projection service, 15 sq.ft. is needed per guest. So 300 guest capacity would be 4,500 sq.ft. An additional 3,500 sq.ft. could give room for prep rooms and a kitchen. Using figures from HomeGuide, a contractor estimate aggregator, the average barn cost is $25 to $100 per sq.ft. We will use $100 for a conservative estimate. Landscaping and furnishings add another $80K.

The city could have built a large capacity 300 person barn-style event building for $530,000 - $880,000, depending on what level of amenities were added.

What Morgantown could have had: Concept idea for Dorsey's Knob Park Barn-style Event Building
What Morgantown could have had: Concept idea for Dorsey's Knob Park Barn-style Event Building

We reached out to local construction experts to verify our calculations. Veritas Contracting ( is known for the slogan displayed outside their NCWV construction projects: On Time and Under Budget. Veritas reviewed our event space estimates and confirmed the costs would indeed be "closer to $100/sf" for 8,000 sq.ft.

What do you think, Morgantown? Do you like the way current city leaders are spending your tax dollars? Do they have the vision to lead us to greatness?

Public Document: 2022-2023 Dorsey Knob Lodge Expenses.pdf