BUCKHANNON – The City of Buckhannon is more likely to qualify for funding to expand the Stockert Youth & Community Center if it broadens the scope of its proposed multipurpose gymnasium addition, a representative from a local consulting firm said Thursday.
Dale Shannon, a representative with Downstream Strategies, an environmental and economic development consulting firm based in West Virginia, attended the March 3 Stockert Youth & Community Center Board meeting to review the progress the firm has made in finding grants or loans that would fund the construction of the new multipurpose gymnasium.
Shannon also informed the SYCC Board they would be more likely to obtain a loan than a grant to fund the construction of a new multipurpose gym.
“We’re working on understanding what possible grants will be competitive for you or possibly other programs for building the facility,” Shannon said. “We’re also looking at a larger area of geography and activity than just the Stockert building. [Create Buckhannon’s vision] is to look for money for various grants or loans or other types of programs that will enhance the resiliency of the community and the surrounding area.”
Create Buckhannon president CJ Rylands attended the Jan. 4 SYCC Board meeting to announce the group had received a grant from the Just Transition Fund, which enabled Create to hire Downstream Strategies to help obtain grant money for community projects. Rylands said the group wanted to partner with SYCC, which operates as a department within the City of Buckhannon’s general fund to help the Stockert Board obtain funding needed to build the long-awaited addition.
Shannon suggested the SYCC Board might have more success in securing a grant or loan if they broadened the scope of their project.
“If you’re committed to the gym and keeping it as a gym, that’s fine,” Shannon said. “[It would be beneficial] if you can figure out a way to use language to expand the scope and the vision to incorporate some sort of gathering center for maybe something during festivals or programs, or it might tie into the use of the trails.”
“There’s a lot of action in this area related to trail development right now, having a place for people to come off trails, shower or meet up and then head into town… you could tie it in with the town,” Shannon advised, referencing the Upshur Trails system located adjacent to Buckhannon-Upshur High School and the Upshur County Recreational Park. “Those are possible areas where you could give us the vision and we can leverage that into a wider scope, but if you’re committed to staying with the gym idea, we would respect that, and we will look for the options that will work for that.”
Several board members said the building was meant to function generally as a multipurpose facility, but City Recorder Randy Sanders said it might benefit the board to specifically state how the building will be utilized.
“In my mind, what we might be missing is a complete narrative,” Sanders remarked. “We’ve bounced around so many different ideas and I know when you look at the plans, the big thing you see there is the gym, right in the center of the building. We’ve talked about the building being a vital part of downtown and a center for community activities, but the narrative might be missing.”
Shannon said the board should make a list of activities the building would accommodate.
“Take the list and then start thinking about what makes you excited about how it works now and especially what the new stuff would be, and as Randy suggested, make sure it is anchored in reality and in line with your vision,” Shannon said.
He said Downstream Strategies would most likely know the loans and grants the project would qualify for within six months.
“I’m pretty sure you’re going to be able to at least get a loan,” Shannon said. “I think we can work and get a loan out of this. Anything you have will be useful for that and anything you have will also help educate us for other options.”