Ty Landis, president of the Youth Environmental Club, addresses the Upshur County Commission about partnering to 'renew' a space adjacent to the Upshur County Trails for school and community use at the commission's July 29 meeting.

Students propose partnership with county to renovate old amphitheater in Upshur County Recreational Park

BUCKHANNON – Two members of Buckhannon-Upshur High School’s Youth Environment Club are hoping to begin their first big real-world project with the Upshur County Commission by renovating a space in the Upshur County Recreational Park that once housed an amphitheater.

Ty Landis, president of the Youth Environmental Club, said their club formed in 2020 and they currently have 20 members. According to information in the commission packet, YEC is a “student-led initiative aimed at protecting and maintaining the environment of Buckhannon and Upshur County.”

“The organization started out of growing passion for the preservation of our environment, as well as the lack of environmental activism,” Landis told commissioners at their Thursday, July 29 meeting. “Along with my officers we gathered forward-thinking individuals.”

Landis said the projects the group has been able to undertake have so far been limited by the ongoing pandemic.

“Due mainly to the pandemic, we’ve been limited to park cleanup jobs, and we have recycled a lot of material that we’ve found throughout Buckhannon in the parks, but we are glad to be able to finally present a real large-scale project that we would like to see implemented in the community,” Landis said.

Club members asked commissioners for help renovating the amphitheater behind the B-UHS football field, which is now an abandoned concrete lot located in the recreational park, behind the scoreboards and next to the Upshur County Trails. The space previously functioned as an open-air amphitheater.

“This area would provide a space for students to use for sports, fundraising, other clubs and student body activities when they need an outdoor space in the community,” Landis said. “We believe the restoration of this area will provide fruitful activity and become a beneficial long-term investment for everybody.” YEC’s proposal notes that currently, the area is not only a hazard for people utilizing the walking trails, but “the moss and uprooted concrete diminishes the aesthetic of the scenic walking trails which highlight Buckhannon’s natural beauty.”

He said the work could be divided between the county and the environmental club.

“We would need to undertake a lot of the concrete lot repair, including fundraising and advertising for that or looking at gaining sponsors for paint, fencing, lights – all of that,” Landis said. “Our main goal is to just go in and clear the area so that it’s at least ready for renovation and all of that would be completed with the club and its volunteers and affiliates. We do think that we can gather a large group of people that would be willing to do that as volunteer work.”

He asked the county to oversee larger construction concerns such as roadway repair, installing proper drainage and making the area accessible, all of which would contribute to renewing the space to transform it into a multi-purpose area for school and community use.

“This information was all reported to me by Josh Hinchman from the (Buckhannon-Upshur) Parks and Recreation board; he gave me a lot of statistics and information that had previously been drawn up about this project,” Landis said. “He gave me quotes for the area, including the roadway repair and drainage culverts, although all that is very minimal, including the renovations, culverts, drainage and labor, it would sum to approximately $12,066.”

Cameron Zuliani, secretary of the Youth Environmental Club, said she is also the student body president at B-UHS and the student council would be willing to help with volunteer efforts.

Cameron Zuliani, secretary of YEC, speaks at Thursday’s commission meeting.

“Future uses for the area could include sports, recreation, photograph opportunities, plays, speeches, etc. – you could pretty much use it for anything,” Zuliani said. “This will attract more guest views and allow for increased revenue of clubs and sports groups with a more opportune area for fundraisers.”

Upshur County commissioner Terry Cutright suggested they table the potential renovation until after an already scheduled property inspection of the area takes place on Aug. 10, 2021. Commissioners voted to table the proposal until the inspection is completed.

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