BUCKHANNON — At Thursday’s City Council meeting, Stockert Youth and Community Center was once again a big topic of discussion. The City of Buckhannon relaunched the Stockert Capital Campaign in December 2017 and reportedly had about $149,000 to use towards building a new expansion at that time. Since starting the campaign back up, they’ve collected $340,000. The SYCC board recommended a donor model, which the council adopted, that would authorize naming rights of the new building at Stockert in April 2018.
Acquisition of these rights requires a gift of $100,000 toward the Stockert expansion. The City Council was happy to announce that with the formal acceptance of purchasing the Citizen’s Bank property on 15 Madison Street, the bank will be the one to give SYCC the $100,000, which will take the campaign to nearly $440,000. “This is a monumental moment in the nearly 26 years history of the Stockert programs,” mentioned Mayor David McCauley. “I think Citizen’s Arena at SYCC has a really cool ring to it.”
This property on Madison street is about 1.03 acres of land and sits right across the road from Jawbone Park. This property, if purchased, would reportedly greatly benefit the city because it would bring more parking to the area, additional landscaping, public art, and utilitarian space involving the building in the middle.
Authorizing execution of purchasing the property on 15 Madison Street was brought up for a vote. Five of the councilors voted for the project, while Pamela Bucklew abstained, and Robbie Skinner voted against it. Councilor Skinner saw the positives for both sides – the city would be acquiring a piece of property on Madison Street that could be beneficial, and it would still be supporting SYCC with the $100,000 donation.
“Supporting the youth of our community is always a valuable and noble cause,” said Skinner. However, he expressed his concerns about the deal and believed that these issues should be discussed. First, he wanted a hard copy appraisal from a third party that would determine the true value of the land, determine a completed design for the property and how much it is going to cost in total, and determine where on the list of priorities the reconstruction of this property lies. This property is also in the flood zone, which is an issue by itself. He felt this could potentially affect the plans and cause more difficulty during the construction process. “I just want to make sure we have a well-thought-out plan before we move forward with purchasing this, or any future piece of property. If we don’t have the facts and figures prepared that are outlined above, I would propose that we pump the brakes,” stated Skinner.
The purchase of the property requires two reading ordinances. The first was No. 443 (authorizing purchase) and it was also voted 5-1-1, which allowed the process to move forward. Therefore, the passing of the second reading ordinance on March 19, 2020 at the next City Council meeting will allow the city to buy this property.