Private group wants to build $20M sports complex

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BUCKHANNON — Thirteen youth and regulation soccer fields, eight youth and regulation baseball and softball fields with indoor batting cages. An indoor turf practice field, athletic courts and all-purpose gymnasium.  A lap pool, swimming pool and splash pad. Four tennis courts. One regulation football and lacrosse field.  Beach volleyball courts, basketball courts, ample parking, a playground and picnic shelters. All surrounded by a walking trail.
This is the vision for a proposed Upshur County Recreation Complex that was unveiled Tuesday by members of the newly formed nonprofit Upshur County Recreation Complex Inc.  
Shawn Tucker, president of the board of directors for the private non-profit, said he sees a need for new and improved athletic facilities for the community.
“My kids started playing soccer and I noted the facilities for youth soccer and then the baseball facilities too — while they are good facilities, they could be improved,” he said. “So, I got the idea to start a nonprofit entity to build a recreation complex because it was needed.”
Tucker shared his thoughts with friends and other members of the boards he is on.
“I started with the baseball board,” he said. “And I am on the soccer board so I got some input there. As we grew, we had different needs, such as filing the nonprofit paperwork, so we got some help there.”
The board of directors now includes Tucker, vice president Keely Burnside, secretary Amanda Nesbitt, treasurer Rob Kimble and at-large members Kevin Nicholson, Rich Rice, James Donnen and Brandon Cerullo. The board was elected from the general membership.
On Tuesday, Tucker and other members unveiled what they consider a concept for a proposed recreation complex.
A couple years ago, the City of Buckhannon’s former city administrator Michael Doss and others showed the community their plan for a recreation complex.
“I looked a little bit at their conceptual drawing they had and used it a little bit, but we are trying to stay as independent as we can from the city and the county,” Tucker said. “We are trying to be an independent entity but in partnership with them.”
Local elected officials were invited to the meeting Tuesday but Upshur County Commissioners were the only governing body able to be in attendance as the city council and board of education both had scheduled meetings.
The purpose of the Tuesday event was to unveil the concept to the public, go over the thought process members had in developing the concept and then explaining how the non-profit will attempt to build the facility, according to Tucker.
The plan as it is presented now — but Tucker said that could be altered as other ideas are brought forward — would take about 100 acres. The non-profit is now looking for sites in Upshur County that would accommodate the recreation complex.
Tucker said the cost is estimated at $15 to $20 million but could be reduced with in-kind donations.
Raising the money will be a continuous process as the non-profit looks at fundraising.
“Our first fundraiser is going to be in conjunction with the Fall Fest,” he said. “We are going to do a 5K that ties in nicely with our endeavor. We are going to work at continuous fundraising efforts.”
Tucker said the reaction to the complex has been positive.
“Everyone I have talked to has been very enthusiastic about the idea,” he said.
“While we have shown these things, we are not in a position to say this is the only thing we will do. If the community comes together and says we want to add something else into it and it is a feasible alternative we can add it in.”
For example, the board has talked about an outdoor amphitheater similar to the one in Clarksburg for outdoor concerts.
“Our overall goal is to get something that everyone can use,” he said.
To become a member of the nonprofit, individuals can join for $25 and corporations can join for $300 annually.
Memberships are to be a member of the nonprofit entity, according to Tucker.
“Essentially what it does is give you a vote at general membership meetings and it gives you a voice in deciding the future of the facility,” he said.
To learn more, visit www.upshurrecreationcomplex.org, like Upshur County Recreation Complex on Facebook or email [email protected]

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