Two former residences on East Victoria Street that are now owned by the Upshur County Board of Education were demolished by city crews this week to allow for expanded green space and outdoor play areas for Buckhannon Academy Elementary School students. (Brian Bergstrom / My Buckhannon)

Board of Education, City of Buckhannon team up to expand green space and playground area at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Board of Education and the City of Buckhannon have started to demolish two buildings next to Buckhannon Academy Elementary School to expand green space.

Upshur County Schools finance manager Jeffrey Perkins said the City of Buckhannon commenced demolishing two properties on East Victoria Street, adjacent to Buckhannon Academy, this week.

“We’ve owned one property for some time, and then another property we were able to secure earlier this year,” Perkins said. “The idea is to increase the size of the footprint for the nearly 1,000 kids that go to school there. When you look at the size of their outdoor activities area, they need more space, so this was an easy way for us to do that.”

The demolition should be complete in the next two weeks and then preparations will be made to plant new grass in the spring. The board is anticipating the new green space to be complete next fall.

Perkins noted that the school board was partnering with city government for the project.

“With the help of the city, we’re doing it in a very economical manner,” he said. “We had a couple of old buildings at the end of their life, and now it’s going to be a playground area for our kids.”

The board of education previously sent a letter to city council, requesting their assistance with the project.

“Please accept this letter as our written request for assistance in expanding the green space and playground area at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School,” Superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison wrote in the letter. “As you may recall, the City of Buckhannon assisted in the expansion of the parking area in front of our Board Office on 102 Smithfield Street by helping us to tear down a large, metal structure. We request assistance once again, in a project that will benefit both the city and the schools. We request your assistance in the demolition of our property located at 11 East Victoria Street.”

The letter also said the board of education is taking on all the costs of the project, including tipping and disposal fees.

“This demolition project will benefit our 740 students who are currently enrolled at BAES, where the blacktop and concrete now serve as the primary play area,” the letter said. “We understand the relationship between green spaces and mental well-being in children and that green spaces can significantly benefit children’s social, emotional, and physical development.”

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