Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis / File photo by Beth Christian Broschart

City agrees to demo Upshur Schools building, making room for green space

BUCKHANNON – The City of Buckhannon and Upshur County Schools are teaming up to take down a building on Victoria Street in hopes of creating more green space for Buckhannon Academy Elementary School students.

Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus attended Thursday’s Buckhannon City Council meeting to ask for help with a project to expand the green space and playground area at BAES.

Specifically, Stankus specifically asked if the City of Buckhannon would assist with the demolition of a property located at 9 E. Victoria St. She explained the BOE would pay for all associated costs, including the tipping and disposal fees.

“Please accept the letter that was submitted prior to this meeting asking for assistance to expand the green space at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School,” Stankus said as she addressed Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner and Buckhannon City Council members. “As you may remember, the City of Buckhannon assisted Upshur County Board of Education in the removal of a large gray building at 102 Smithfield and that increased the parking spaces for the city as well as the Board of Education. Thank you for that.”

Stankus said they are requesting help again, and she feels the city will benefit as well as the schools.

“We are requesting demolition of the property located at 9 E. Victoria St.,” Stankus said. “We will assume all associated costs including disposal and tipping fees. As you may know, there are 740 students at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School and right now, the students only have their primary program across from McDonald’s in a blacktop area. We put a black binder all around the area so those driving by cannot see the children any longer.”

She said the desire, as a school board, is to create green space on the side of the school in a less accessible area than what they have now.

“We have a long-standing relationship with the City of Buckhannon and we hope to increase our green space,” she said.

Upshur County Finance Director Jeffrey Perkins also attended Thursday’s Buckhannon City Council meeting and when he spoke, he said the BOE is working to acquire all of the properties in that area.

“There are three properties – two of which we own,” he said. “We are attempting to acquire another one. At a later time, we will come back and ask for help demolishing the other properties. We are attempting to establish a green space to help with security for the students.”

Stankus said ideally, the plan is to create green space for the playground and then transition the blacktop area into parking.

Councilman CJ Rylands asked Stankus what the timeline is for the project and she said their hope is to get the demolition started during the summer.

“We could use our maintenance personnel as well, like we did with the other demolition project,” she said.

Rylands asked how it worked the last time and Buckhannon Public Works Director Jerry Arnold said the city provided the demolition and the BOE provided the board employees who removed everything from the building.

“We charged them the hauling and tipping fee and abatement,” Arnold said. “The BOE would be responsible to get all of the necessary permits and we would simply be taking the house down. As far as it happening this summer, I cannot promise that. It may be late season depending on how our projects go.”

Councilwoman Sheila Lewis-Sines made the motion to approve the City of Buckhannon providing demolition for the property at 9 E. Victoria St. and Councilwoman Pam Bucklew seconded the motion, pending all permits. Buckhannon City Council unanimously approved providing the assistance.

Following the Buckhannon City Council meeting, Arnold told My Buckhannon that in his estimation, the cost for demolition that would be provided in kind to the Upshur County Board of Education would be approximately $2,000.

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