SYCC board meets in closed-door session regarding multipurpose building project

BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon City Council plans to facilitate a public meeting next month where community members can ask about the new Stockert Youth and Community Center multipurpose building project that council unanimously approved nearly one year ago.

In September 2022, city council voted in favor of a plan for the new building and authorized the city to borrow up to $4 million for the project. Other funding sources include nearly half a million dollars donated from community members and local businesses as part of a capital campaign fundraising drive that was revitalized in 2017.

The plans call for a modern facility that will house a multipurpose gymnasium, an entryway with an admission area, public restrooms, locker rooms, a concession stand and a storage area, according to previous stories. The building is designed to fit in architecturally with downtown Buckhannon and will feature an outdoor patio area.

In their first meeting since April, the SYCC board entered into a lengthy executive session pertaining to property matters. After that, the city announced it is organizing two additional public meetings, which are a stipulation of their USDA loan application. City officials have said they will fund the project either through a low-interest USDA loan or through commercial banks.

“The USDA requires us to have two public meetings, one for the environmental assessment and the other one is for public comment on the Stockert building project,” according to Amberle Jenkins, director of finance and administration for the City of Buckhannon. “We can hold the two public meetings at the same time, but we have to advertise them separately.”

City engineer Jay Hollen said the assessment was conducted by a consulting engineer, and the USDA will help facilitate that part of the meeting.

“The public meeting part will be an overall comment session on the project and what the design plan is going to be now,” Hollen said. “I imagine the architect would be there as a spokesperson about this project and how we got to where we are, what the purpose of it is, and then allow for public comment.”

Jenkins anticipates the new public meetings will take place simultaneously in mid-September of this year, but the official date will be announced at a future city council meeting.

“I have to put the legal advertisement in the paper,” Jenkins said. “I have to wait 10 days from the last advertisement, and then the public meeting can happen, so we’re thinking mid-September.”

Originally envisioned as a $400,000 project, city council expanded the idea after passing the 1 percent sales tax in 2019.

To date, the city has spent $295,000 to purchase additional property for the building and $167,474 to Charleston-based Potesta & Associates for engineering work, according to Jenkins. The Mills Group out of Morgantown is providing architectural services, but Jenkins says they work with Potesta and are not paid directly by the city. Steptoe & Johnson in Bridgeport has been retained as bond counsel for the building’s financing.

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