BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Board of Education will not move forward with the purchase of the large red house on the corner of Kanawha and Victoria street near Buckhannon Academy Elementary School.
At its most recent meeting Nov. 29 at BAES, officials announced that one of the properties they had voted to purchase in order to create green space around the school had, indeed, not been purchased.
Following an approximate five-minute executive session for the purpose of discussing property, Upshur County Schools Financial Director Jeffrey Perkins said during the session, he had notified Upshur BOE members that although the BOE had entered into an agreement to purchase property at the corner of Victoria and South Kanawha Streets, the agreement had since fallen through.
During a previous BOE meeting held at the end of July 2022, BOE members had voted to purchase a property at 108 South Kanawha Street in Buckhannon, the large red house on the corner, owned by Robin Criss, which formerly operated as The Caring Manor.
At that BOE meeting in July, Perkins said the parties had agreed to the sale/purchase of the property for $300,000 with funds coming from the sale of other properties as well as using $287,000 that the BOE was awarded as a bonus for the school enrollment increase the previous year.
Perkins said both the seller and the BOE came to an “amicable end” of the process.
“We are no longer involved in the sale of that property,” Perkins said. “We own a number of properties on Victoria Street, and that property is no longer one we are interested in purchasing at this time.”
In previous Upshur County BOE meetings, members spoke of the need to purchase property adjacent to Buckhannon Academy Elementary School in order to make a green space for students to play and be away from the main road. Former Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus had spoken at a Buckhannon City Council meeting and had asked for help from the city to raze the building located at 9 E. Victoria St.
At the time, Stankus said Upshur County Schools was working to purchase the property at 11 E. Victoria St. as well. The City of Buckhannon voted to offer in-kind help — i.e., labor or equipment – with razing the building on the property.
During a phone interview on Friday with Perkins, he said the Upshur County Board of Education owns all of the properties adjacent to BAES on that side with the exception of the two corner houses – the red house and one closest to the Upshur County Board of Education Office.
“There were five lots in there, and I believe we have already developed two of them,” Perkins said. “We have three others where we will be working to make additional green space at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School. At this time, we are working to complete the green space.”
When asked if the Upshur County BOE will be looking to purchase more property adjacent to BAES, Perkins said they would like to.
“But it all depends on the need and the market availability,” Perkins added.
As far as a timeline to complete the green space, Perkins said in January, the City of Buckhannon will be helping to raze two of the buildings.
“At that time, we will work to seed it, remove stumps and get the debris out of the way,” Perkins said. “Hopefully by next fall, it will be able to be used as a playground area; however, there will not be any playground equipment. It will be a green space where students can play.