New city parks and recreation board, SYCC board could be consolidated

BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon City Council recently approved an ordinance establishing a new Parks and Recreation Advisory Board that could potentially assume control of the Stockert Youth & Community Center and its operations in the future.

At its most recent meeting May 17, city council approved on second and final reading Ordinance 456 which establishes a seven-member Buckhannon Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, outlines the board’s responsibilities and establishes its authority. That authority, according to the ordinance, includes “its authority to advise on management of the Stockert Youth & Community Center.”

After city attorney Tom O’Neill briefed council on the ordinance, the first reading of which took place May 5, councilwoman Pam Bucklew asked mayor Robbie Skinner asked how the new all-volunteer parks and recreation would function in conjunction with the current SYCC board. The SYCC board meets monthly and has been working on finalizing plans to construct a new multipurpose gymnasium addition.

“This board will not dissolve the current board we have for the Stockert Youth Center, right?” Bucklew asked.

Skinner said as it’s written, the ordinance does not eliminate the current SYCC board, but he’s considering consolidating the two.

“No, but I’m planning to [dissolve the SYCC Board],” he replied. “It makes no sense to have both a Stockert board and a parks and recreation board when [SYCC] is a recreational facility.”

City recorder Randy Sanders and mayor Robbie Skinner at council’s May 17 meeting. / Photo by Katie Kuba

Skinner said SYCC executive director Debora Brockleman could report to the new Buckhannon Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

Bucklew said she had spoken with Brockleman and noted that SYCC may be required to have its own board per the wishes of the late Joyce Stockert, who bequeathed her estate to establish a youth center. O’Neill, the city attorney, said he would review the matter and give council a definitive answer at its June 2 meeting.

“What we’re doing doesn’t replace it,” Skinner said. “But if we can, I’d like to because it seems redundant to have [SYCC] have its own board, and then all of our other recreational facilities have a board.”

“Well, are you going to offer [membership on the new parks and rec board] to the people on that board?” Bucklew asked, and Skinner said city officials will consider it.

“We can gauge interest, yes,” the mayor replied. “This calls for seven members.”

The current SYCC board is comprised of 11 members – four more than the new Buckhannon Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

Councilman CJ Rylands made a motion to approve the ordinance which was seconded by councilman David Thomas prior to passing unanimously.

Other details laid out in the ordinance include the stipulation that parks and rec board members will serve at the will and pleasure of council and not for a designated term, and that board members must be Upshur County residents but not necessarily city residents. Board duties include recommending policies regarding the use of the city’s parks and SYCC; making recommendations to council with respect to the hiring of full-time or part-time staff and needed capital improvements; and negotiating agreements with donors.

The ordinance specifies that the parks and recreation board is not a separate corporate entity, but merely advisory in nature, meaning all board decisions are subject to council approval.

The ordinance takes effect June 16, 2022.

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