BUCKHANNON – The Stockert Youth and Community Center Board hopes the new multipurpose complex will be a home for youth recreation and community events.
The board and several community members convened Oct. 14 to conduct their first working session meeting to lay out the needs and wants for the new building.
“The Knights of Pythias house is down and the lot has been nicely cleared,” Mayor Robbie Skinner said. “We’re here to talk about our next steps for the property across the street — the gym, the building options, the cost and vision.”
Debora Brockleman, director of the SYCC, illustrated the importance of having their own full-size gym.
“We have a summer camp, we have birthday parties, we’ve had yard sales, we’re scheduled to have BuckhanaCon at the end of the month,” Brockleman said. “The area needs to be multipurpose, but more than anything, we need a gymnasium that we can have control over. We don’t want to beg for space from everybody else and then be at the bottom of the list if something goes wrong. We do have other things that will go on there, so it’s definitely multipurpose, but we do need a place for our basketball and volleyball and whatever else we do.”
Michael Mills, an architect with the Mills Group, asked if the board wanted the new building and the existing SYCC facility to physically connect.
“I think that’s the vision that we’ve had thus far, is connecting the two facilities,” Skinner said. “We saw a pathway to the gym and then back to the actual Stockert Youth Center all enclosed, climate controlled and safe for everybody involved.”
Mills said a new entry area for both structures could also house extra offices or bathrooms.
“This would be a new entry piece, but it could be where offices are meant to be, or bathrooms,” Mills said. “It could be like the knuckle that could be shared by either the existing building or the new facility, so you can close the door on the new facility, yet still use the bathrooms, or vice versa.”
Mills also laid out the previously discussed features the board is seeking for the building.
“We’ve talked about a full-size court, a viewing area, locker rooms for the courts, concessions or a snack area with a small kitchen, and then two offices,” Mills said. “What else might you be considering for the space?”
Brockleman said she hopes to have an outdoor seating area connected to the snack bar, which she would like to be located on the back side of the building.
“The space could double as a meeting area, and the snack bar should be on the back side of the building so it’s closer to the playground area,” Brockleman said. “It’s another source of revenue for us, and it’s also needed because during summer basketball, we always have tables set up, or a little snack bar, so it would be convenient to have one that we can use whenever.”
Board member Sam Nolte said he would like to see the center continue to expand its programs to the broader community.
“I think Stockert needs to figure out if it wants to expand past what we have right now, which is basically programming for kids and after school, and doing a basketball program in the wintertime,” Nolte said. “Personally, I would like to see Stockert take more of a vision of a YMCA-type atmosphere, which we already have on some level, but we would be expanding it to everyone.”
Nolte said he feels the building should be big enough to allow the programs to grow, and city councilman CJ Rylands noted that there is land next to the former Knights of Pythias lot that the city could consider purchasing.
“There is still another piece of property adjacent to that lot that I’ve been advocating we try to acquire, and then we would have everything that we can possibly have,” Rylands said. “It actually has the same square footage footprint as the Knights of Pythias property.”
The board agreed to consider purchasing the property, and Skinner said the design of the new building should match the rest of Main Street.
“I think we are all in agreement that we really want this to match the downtown — it needs to be classy,” Skinner said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be brick the whole way around, but the front part at least needs to look like it belongs downtown.”
The board agreed there will have to be more meetings before a final design comes together, but the Oct. 14 meeting was a good first step.