A lush green space on the Monongahela riverfront will soon be transformed into an even more vibrant gathering spot, thanks to a joint project by West Virginia University and the City of Morgantown.

WVU Student Affairs officials have unveiled plans for Mountaineer Heritage Park on Don Knotts Boulevard between the Jeep dealership and Exxon gas station.

The park will feature an entrance plaza, Walk of Seniors, butterfly garden, gazebo and picnic areas, water feature and memorial garden, said Mary Collins, senior associate dean and executive director of Student Affairs.

The project will be supported by the purchasing of items such as bricks, gardens and plants, as well as through in-kind gifts, she said.

This wonderful opportunity to contribute to your community or alma mater is coming your way, so be sure to take advantage of it by donating to the park or walking through it on its way to completion,Collins added.

WVU landscape architecture students and faculty have assisted with the design and landscaping. Other WVU participants include the Division of Student Affairs, Physical Plant and WVU Alumni Association. Morgantowns Beautification Committee and the Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners also have key roles in the project.

Ralph LaRue, associate director of development and operations for BOPARC , noted the beautification committee and park board are providing expertise in planting and park amenities.

I think its wonderful to see WVU and the City of Morgantown working together on this project,he said.The park is on a main artery right into town, so its great to put our best foot forward.

A strong supporter of the park is Mary Kathryn Willis-Turner, a 1970 WVU graduate who wanted a picturesque place for people to visit and remember their loved ones.

Her son, Eric David Willis, died in his sleep Dec. 15, 2001. At the time, he was studying civil engineering at WVU .

I began to search for a way to memorialize Eric that would truly show his love for West Virginia University,Willis-Turner said.When I think of Eric now, I picture him in a place where the air is crisp, the trees are huge and ornamented with fiery rhododendrons, with the sun setting over the mountains and on the rivermuch like what the park will embody.

Brochures describing Mountaineer Heritage Park will arrive shortly in the mailboxes of Morgantown residents and WVU alumni.

WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. and other University officials will join Morgantown Mayor Ron Justice at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 18 to celebrate the joint WVU -city project.