County, city plan to demolish buildings near Upshur County Courthouse, hope to widen Route 20

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission is seeking a collaboration with the City of Buckhannon to demolish several structures near Main Street.

According to a previous My Buckhannon story, the commission purchased 10 parcels of land along Chancery Street for $400,000 from grantor Gary W. Evans via a deed executed on Dec. 19, 2022. This summer, the commission sent a letter, which was included in the Aug. 3 city council agenda packet, asking the city to help them with the demolition of some of the properties.

“Our goal is to demolish the structures situated at 18 South Locust Street (brick structure used for apartments), 6 Chancery Street (yellow residence) and 12 Chancery Street (brown residence),” the letter read. “Once demolished, the area will be utilized for parking and as open space during the foreseeable future. However, this area will also allow for future expansion if deemed necessary. While exploring demolition possibilities, the Upshur County Commission would like to request the assistance of the City of Buckhannon with the demolition of these three structures and paving of the sites thereafter.”

The letter said removing the brick apartment building would be particularly beneficial to the downtown area and could potentially allow for an expansion of Route 20 between the courthouse and Citizen’s Bank.

“The other two structures create undesirable liability while sitting vacant and are not conducive for office space,” the letter read. “We are fortunate to have an almost fully occupied Main Street; however, as downtown businesses generate more traffic, we are seeing an increased need for parking. Therefore, a working partnership on this project would benefit not only the residents of Upshur County but also the local businesses and visitors.”

The commission and city council convened a meeting on the topic on Thursday, Aug. 10, but the discussion was conducted in executive session and no decisions were made. Upshur County Commission president Kristie Tenney and commissioner Sam Nolte said they are evaluating potential funding sources for the project and foresee a collaboration with the city in the future.

Mayor Robbie Skinner said the city is in favor of the project.

“Based on the conversation today with my colleagues on city council, it would appear the city government is in full support of assisting the Upshur County Commission with the demolition and redevelopment of the properties they purchased and the redevelopment of some of the public parking areas,” Skinner said. “We will be working with the Department of Highways to widen West Virginia Route 20 to create a third lane from about Speedway to the stoplight at Main Street to alleviate the traffic headaches that take place several times a day, so we believe this is a great project to work on together.”

He said it makes sense for both the city and county to contribute to this project.

“We want to see the area beautified, we want to see the area be more functional, so I think it’s great we have the county government and city government on board to realize drastic improvement in this section of the downtown area,” Skinner said.

In other Upshur County Commission news.

  • The commission approved the appointment of Donald Scott Casto to the Tennerton Public Service District Board. Upon approval, the appointment will be effective immediately and will expire on July 31, 2029.
  • The commission approved a request from Pastor J. Edward McDaniels to use the Courthouse steps/plaza for a county-wide worship service and walk on September 10, 2023.  A Certificate of Liability Insurance will be provided.
  • The commission approved an advertisement for two part-time (19.5 hours per week) positions at the James W. Curry Library and Park located at 1721 Brooks Hill Road in Selbyville. Applications must be received by 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.

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