City invites public to June 15 meeting about future use of old bank drive-thru lot

BUCKHANNON – Want to put in your two cents about the future purpose of the lot on Madison Street where the former Chase bank drive-thru was located?

If so, plan on attending a City of Buckhannon Planning Commission meeting at 7 p.m. June 15 at in council chambers at city hall, 70 E. Main St. The Planning Commission has scheduled the special meeting to discuss potential uses for the 1.03-acre property along Madison Street where the former Chase Bank drive-thru was located.

At its Thursday, June 3 meeting, Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner and other city officials invited the public to provide feedback at the June 15 meeting.

The city purchased the lot from Citizens Bank of West Virginia in spring of 2020, but no concrete plans have been developed for how the tract will be utilized. At Thursday’s meeting, Skinner said the nine-member Planning Commission wanted to have a say in how the lot was utilized.

“They want to be involved with helping to determine the potential uses of the Madison Street property,” Skinner said. “Madame chairwoman Dr. Susan Aloi and other members have agreed to hold a public meeting concerned specifically with the Madison Street property.

City councilman and Planning Commission member CJ Rylands explained that some informal discussions regarding how the land would be used had taken place at Create Buckhannon meetings and that city architect Bryson VanNostrand would attend the June 15 meeting to lay out a proposal for the space.

“Bryson will be there to present some information developed to date,” Rylands said. “Hopefully, we can come to some agreement as to what we’re going to use this property for and get the plan and begin the demolition in preparation so we can get this job completed in the next construction season of 2022.”

Councilwoman Pam Bucklew asked if the proposal was solely VanNostrand’s or had been put forth by the Planning Commission.

“Was it the Planning Commission that’s come up with the ideas or is it just Bryson?” she asked.

Rylands said he’d asked VanNostrand to survey the space and a few lunch meetings had taken place.

“Up to this point, I asked the city architect to take a look at the property and we had a couple of lunch meetings with the mayor and Jerry (Arnold, public works director), Amby (Jenkins, city finance and information director), Randy (Sanders, city recorder) and [VanNostrand, city architect] … and it was just basically a conversation,” Rylands recounted.

“At the first meeting, there was a little dissension about what we were going to do, and then it kind of consensualized that the building (the old drive-thru) didn’t really represent value, and then Bryson developed a plan with two parking lots, a lot of green space, with the primary distinction that on the East Lincoln Street side [there would be] no more driving through, and that space gets given back, so to speak, to the neighborhood – that it gets converted to a green space, a park, it could be a pathway for bicycles or sidewalks,” he added.

Rylands said an adjacent property owner was potentially interested in engaging in a property swap with the city.

“It’s still an open plan,” he said. “It’s just been a conversation up to this point. My intention was to try to get some kind of consensus and agreement because it’s been sitting there, and we haven’t done anything yet and we don’t know what we’re going to do yet. If you don’t know what you’re going to do, you probably don’t do it – it doesn’t done.”

Rylands said taking action soon is critical because the city is slated to host the World Association of Marching Show Bands Championships in July 2023.

“We’re having an international event in our community, and this is going to enhance the event space of Jawbone Park significantly,” he said.

Skinner said the public was invited to the Planning Commission meeting, which is now scheduled to take place at city hall. Councilman David Thomas suggested moving the meeting to the Public Safety Complex on Florida Street so it could accommodate more attendees.

Read more about the city’s purchase of the property here and here.

Now owned by the City of Buckhannon, this lot was the former Chase Bank drive-thru.

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