Pictured, from left are Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner, councilman Jack Reger and councilman David McCauley at city council's Aug. 3 meeting. / Photo by Katie Kuba

Buckhannon City Council agrees to earmark $100K for City Park upgrades

BUCKHANNON – City Council on Thursday approved a request to allocate $100,000 to the Buckhannon Parks & Recreation Advisory Board to upgrade amenities at the City Park on Park Street.

The request for funds was made by the city’s Consolidated Works Board after they voted to move the allocation forward during their July 27 meeting.

“The Parks and Recreation board met last week on Wednesday and then met with our Consolidated Public Works Board on Thursday, made a pitch to have an allocation of $100,000 toward improvements at our City Park,” Mayor Robbie Skinner said. “The Consolidated Public Works Board received a detailed report from the from the Parks and Recreation board relative to some of the improvements they want, and that includes installing or working on improving playground equipment.”

Some of the items listed for improvement included new nets and backboards for the basketball court, making the court regulation size, paving the roads in the park, adding more lighting, constructing a trail system that would connect to Park Street and creating an accessible walking/mountain biking trail in the wooded area of the park.

“The big-ticket item in the City Park would be to add two pickleball courts in the lower end where there is currently nothing,” Skinner said. “We deliberated, and that is a really good place to include pickleball, so the Parks and Recreation board has been very active and working very hard to create this list.”

Skinner said the CPWB unanimously voted to recommend that allocate the $100,000.

“The Parks and Recreation board will be working with the Consolidated Public Works Board as expenditures come up, but we would like to have a budget of $100,000, and based on Andrew’s [Andrew Loudin with the Buckhannon Street Department] figures, this would really improve our City Park,” Skinner said. “We are sending this request to city council for support, so we can take a huge leap toward drastically improving our City Park on Park Street.”

The Parks and Rec board also wants to reconstruct the old Rotary pavilion, which has fallen to disrepair over the years.

“Rotary has as offered to help with the pavilion up there, as well as Karl Boone, who has 30 men that would like to donate the labor to completely overhaul and rehab that Rotary pavilion,” Skinner said. “They also want to work on all the pavilions in the City Park that need repair. The two wooden ones need the most work; the one up on the hill is in really good shape.”

City council member CJ Rylands said he was in favor of the upgrades, but he would like to see the official report from the Parks and Rec board.

“As far as us allocating the $100,000, I’m fine with that, but I’d like to have a copy of these specific reports they gave to Consolidated, and [I’d recommend] we give them the money as things are completed so we know what’s going on,” Rylands said. “We have a fiduciary responsibility when it comes to money, and all I’m saying is I’d like to see a copy of the report and what they’re going to do with the money.”

Skinner earmarking the $100,000 will make the construction process quicker and easier.

“Instead of [requiring] each individual expenditure have to go to Consolidated Public Works Board and then go to city council, we wanted to streamline the approach, so we know we have $100,000 – that’s the cap – to fix the City Park,” Skinner said. “The plan Andrew (Loudin) has detailed is the blueprint, so we know we have the authority and the ability to come to the city and say, ‘Okay, we’re ready for this; we’re ready for that,’ and we don’t have to keep coming back every single time with every little expenditure that would come down the pike. We’re asking for a budget of $100,000.”

City recorder Randy Sanders said he thinks the Parks and Rec board has done their due diligence in evaluating all the parks and their needs.

“I think we heard a call from our community that our parks needed some TLC — and a lot of TLC,” Sanders said. “We’ve put together a pretty robust committee with subcommittees, and I have not attended many of the meetings, but it seems they are very active, well-attended, and they’re answering the call, so I think the council should support them and keep the momentum going, so I’ll make the motion to approve.”

Council member Jack Reger seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

In other city news, council voted to contract John Slaughter as the city’s designated cat trapper.

“He picks up the cats only as directed,” Amberle Jenkins, city director of finance and administration, explained. “We get a call, and we send him to where the complaint is being made. He then has to get permission to set the trap. If he catches a cat, he takes it to the animal shelter [the Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility], and then they evaluate the animal from there. He would be paid $20 per cat.”

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