BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Commission voiced concerns over the Wellness Complex on the Brushy Fork Road remaining unused by youth sports at its regular meeting last Thursday.
The conversation got under way when James Lanier, a board member of the Upshur County Youth Baseball Association, appeared before the commission to address the issue of mowing the 14-acre plot of land, which is located directly behind the Event Center at Brushy Fork on the Brushy Fork Road. Although Jason Westfall was originally scheduled to appear before the commission, he called Lanier that morning and asked that Lanier appear instead.
Lanier explained to the commission that he has an 11-year-old son who plays baseball in Upshur County and has consequently volunteered to mow the property, which the youth baseball association currently maintains a lease on. Lanier updated the commission, saying he mows the land twice a month during the summer. He also mentioned forming an alliance with Upshur County Youth Soccer.
“They want to help mow it and keep it mowed,” Lanier told the commission.
Commissioner Sam Nolte, who has been involved in youth sports in Upshur County for over 20 years, said his biggest concern was the complex — currently just an empty field — had not been developed.
“I guess my biggest concern is it’s been sitting vacant for two years with no action,” Nolte said. “I’m pretty involved with youth sports and that’s why I want to make sure we have a plan going forward with you all — I know you can’t come up with the money all at once to do the field, but maybe to make sure we don’t put the baseball field right smack dab in the middle of the 14 acres. It would be great if we can figure out a proper place for it to go where the rest of the acreage can be utilized to maximize the space we have.”
Nolte said he’s frustrated that the complex hasn’t been developed since he knows there’s a great need for field space in the county for youth sports.
“Nothing has transpired, and that’s the thing that kind of bothers me because I know everybody needs fields, and so if you’re working with soccer, I think that’s great,” Nolte continued. “I just don’t want to come back a year from now and have this discussion again and the fields still not have been used. I feel like the fields need to be used because everybody is always scrambling for space.”
Nolte said a plan needed to be developed that would identify where the following would be located: a baseball field, a gravel parking lot and potentially soccer fields.
“I think we need to get aggressive with figuring out at least where you want the field at, carve that out and if you are going to partner with soccer, you all need to get together sooner than later because I personally do not want to see those fields sit vacant for another year.”
Lanier replied, “It’s going to take more than one sports entity to go out there and spend the kind of money that’s needed, because as I told Mr. Westfall, you cannot go out there with one baseball field and afford to draw the kind of crowd you’re going to need to bring in the revenue to pay off the loans that it would take. You can put two fields somewhere almost for 25 percent more money than you can build one field.”
Lanier said he would suggest to the board that a survey be completed.
“I will also suggest that we get a partner and we mark off and bring to the board what we will need and what whoever we are bringing forward — youth soccer — will take as well, and move forward with it so that next time, it won’t be somebody coming up here like me that doesn’t really know what you want me to know,” Lanier said.
Nolte asked if it was possible that members of the Upshur County Youth Baseball Association return to the commission in a month to provide the commission with an update.
“I think that’s the only way we’re going to be able to make sure that everybody keeps moving,” Nolte said.
Nolte asked Upshur County administrator Carrie Wallace to look into an estimate of would cost for the commission to contract out the mowing on a weekly basis.
Cpl. Rodney Rolenson with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department said community service workers have, in the past, been used to complete tasks such as mowing.
Lanier said he would return with three board members in a month to provide the commission with an update on the status of the Wellness Complex.