City Council discusses Stockert Youth Facility Project


BUCKHANNON — City Council of Buckhannon held their weekly meeting in Council Chambers on Thursday, June 16 at 7 p.m. Among their discussion was the topic of the Stockert Youth and Community Multi-Use Facility Project. Council heard a presentation by Mills Group, LLC followed by comments from public as well as feedback from council members.

Michael Mills, American Institute of Architects (AIA) and National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) of Mills Group, LLC provided a presentation of the project during the council meeting. Mills said, “I enjoy working in small communities like Buckhannon. It is a privilege to be here. I am privileged to work on a great project that I feel is going to make a wonderful difference in your community. These are the things that get us excited as architects, designers, community changers and we are so excited.”

Mills continued to note that he has worked for eight months on the project thus far in collaboration with the Upshur County Commission and with Stockert Youth board members and users. “So, what we are looking at is about 11,500 square foot building. In the back you see a large meeting room or large event center. It houses a 50 by 90 basketball court but certainly the idea is it is a multi-purpose room for events, fairs, and other things. The bleachers could fold away. I am going to show a video here in a minute to give you the full perspective of it, but it is really the idea is to be a contextual building,” said Mills.

Mills provided additional details stating, “We would have loved to do a two-story building but just the program and being mindful of budget that wasn’t part of the equation, so it really is a story and a half at the front it’s raised about three and a half four feet off the grade.” Mills also elaborated on other details such as where public bathrooms, and such would be located, and the various opportunities spaces/offices can be used for. Mills further explained, “We are exploring some funding that would tie emergency shelter type stuff into it.”

“Here in the video, you will see it a little more clearly but between the two buildings what is shown, is just conceptual is an outdoor classroom or outdoor amphitheater. A place to meet is really kind of putting a face on the street to kind of engage that space between the two buildings. It is a special little spot, and we did not want it to be just a dark alley, so we are bringing some life to it and that’s also the connecting element. There is an enclosed covered connector between this building here in this corner to the existing building.”

Following the video council members discussed the project. Councilman C.J. Rylands spoke, “We have seen this evolve you know as we raise money over the years.  I remember conceptualizing a metal building that was going to go down there and we got you know a sense of urgency that we got to get this thing started and then we started thinking about entertaining possibilities of grant money out there and we got some funding to research that and found out that it does not there is not a lot of grant money for recreation buildings. Then as a process the board got you and envisioned what they what would meet their needs and we only have one opportunity to do this. we are not going to go building another building like this for another 30 years. And we have not reached out enough into the community to see what their expectations of a community center are. I mean you work with the board, but it is an opportunity to try to broaden the vision and look at the whole property you know and the old building. I am advocating that they would be connected because if we move everything over there that is going to become a relic and I am not afraid to invest money in things tangible things like this. I would like to elevate the old building in conjunction with offering this new space and do it in one fell swoop.”

Council members appeared to all agree with Rylands points. Mayor Robbie Skinner then spoke, “here is the thing I just made some quick notes…I have listed Chamber of Commerce, Create Buckhannon, Upshur County Senior Center, Upshur County School system, Upshur County Recreational Board, and Upshur County Trails…those are the first to come to mind but this needs to be consistent. You have to…. you cannot put out different messages to everybody. There must be a consistent message and there must be people there that know the score and can answer the questions intelligently and be able to answer properly as Mr. Sanders just said well. to transition that feedback back into something that is positive to bring back to where we can help Michael Mills because and this this is time consuming. I mean this is a lot of time to get all this all this in all this input.  We just must, and we need to make sure that if we are going to visit these people they have as many members of their organizations as possible at these at these meetings.”

Other discussions included the funding, costs, and considering inflation and federal reserve rates while taking out a loan to cover the cost associated with the project. However, the main consensus appeared to be that the City of Buckhannon wants to receive as much input as possible from the public as to what their expectations would be of the Stockert Youth and Community Multi-Use Facility Project.

City Council of Buckhannon will meet again on Thursday, July 7 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers. The meeting can be viewed in its entirety including the images and video by Mills Group on the project on Channel 3’s Facebook page or YouTube Page.

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