Mayor David McCauley, at right, announces a proposed agreement between the City of Buckhannon and Citizens Bank of West Virginia that would provide funding for the new SYCC gymnasium-auditorium. Also pictured is city recorder Randy Sanders.

Proposed city purchase of old Madison Street bank drive-thru could yield $100,000 for new SYCC addition

BUCKHANNON – A potential agreement between the City of Buckhannon and a local bank could result in the bank investing $100,000 in the Stockert Youth & Community Center’s new auditorium-gymnasium.

During Monday’s SYCC Board meeting, Mayor David McCauley announced that subject to Buckhannon City Council’s approval at its March 5 meeting – and in exchange for naming rights of the arena in the proposed multi-purpose addition to SYCC – Citizens Bank of West Virginia had agreed to donate $100,000 to SYCC’s capital campaign fund.

The campaign, which was relaunched a couple years ago, is seeking to raise sufficient funds to build a multi-functional space connected to the Stockert building that would serve as a sports venue, performing arts venue and more. SYCC executive director Debora Brockleman has repeatedly told council that Stockert has outgrown its current capacity.

However, as a part of the agreement, council members would have to authorize the city to purchase the old bank drive-thru from Citizens Bank, which encompasses 1.03 acres on Madison Street for $200,000. That’s the same amount Citizens Bank paid for the drive-thru when it bought it from Chase Bank on March 31, 2017, according to records in the Upshur County Assessor’s Office.

McCauley reminded the board Monday that in April of 2018, it approved a model wherein a $100,000 donation to the planned SYCC building would secure naming rights of the new building’s main gym or arena.

“I have been courting several people and enterprises in hopes of selling our naming rights,” the mayor told the Stockert Board. “I am pleased to report this afternoon that, subject to city council’s final acceptance this Thursday evening as part of a larger transaction, i.e. the city’s purchase of the bank’s drive-thru on Madison Street, Citizens Bank will gift our campaign with $100,000 to take our capital campaign to about $440,000.”

“Citizens’ CEO Nathaniel Bonnell and the Citizens’ Board of Directors are friends of Buckhannon and our SYCC programs and facilities,” McCauley added.

McCauley said the new multi-purpose building is desperately needed to accommodate the number of kids who frequently utilize SYCC as an after-school venue, a tutoring spot and a safe place to play sports and engage in other extracurricular activities such as baton twirling and karate.

“We are averaging about 13,000-plus youth hours monthly, and another 1,000 hours of volunteer service time monthly,” he said. “This facility enjoys nearly universal support of our B-U community … Needless to say, this is a monumental moment in this nearly 26-year history of Stockert programs.”

McCauley encouraged SYCC board members to attend Thursday’s city council meeting to urge council to support three prospective items listed on the agenda: the potential authorization of the execution of a purchase agreement between the city and Citizens Bank regarding the Madison Street lot; formal acceptance of $100,000 from Citizens Bank in exchange for naming rights of the arena; and first reading of an ordinance authorizing the city’s purchase of the property.

According to several previous My Buckhannon stories, the city initially estimated the multi-functional auditorium-gymnasium addition would cost about $400,000. However, McCauley said Monday upon further examination of the issue, $400K would only pay for a “shell of a building with lights and HVAC, no bleachers, no special flooring, no anything else.”

“We need close to $1 million to have a good turn-key facility,” he said. “That would be the Chevrolet model. Of the $3.8 million AML grant (Abandoned Land Mines grant) [the city has applied for], $2.8 million of that is [earmarked] for the building, so if we had $2.8 million and we add in an extra $440,000 to $450,000, we could build the building that architect Bryson VanNostrand designed for us about 10 or 12 years ago. We would be pleased with the Chevy model; we would be salivating over the ‘Cadillac’ model.”

McCauley thanked Citizens Bank.

“I encourage as many of our Board members as possible to attend this Thursday’s City Council meeting to speak favorably about acceptance of this gift while our City also develops more, much needed parking for our downtown that also will serve Jawbone Park, our public safety complex and, of course, our own Stockert facility.

“The bank property is located but a block away from Stockert. I think Citizens Arena at SYCC has a really cool ring to it! We thank everyone with Citizens Bank for this wonderful gift.”

Following Monday’s meeting, McCauley said the Madison Street lot has an assessed value of $220,000 and an appraised – or fair market value – or $320,000.

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