The delta of records | Locals voice their ideas for Madison St.
BUCKHANNON – The Buckhannon Town Planning Commission held a public meeting on Tuesday evening to welcome community feedback on the future of the dilapidated Madison Street property.
Planning Commission President Susan Aloi opened the meeting by introducing the other Planning Commission members including Mike Sharp, Kelly Tierney, City Recorder Randy Sanders, Vincent Smith and City Councilor CJ Rylands. Another committee member, Rich Clemons joined by video call with other community members and other committees. After the introductions, there was a moment of silence, and then Sharp led the meeting participants into the pledge of allegiance.
The agenda consisted of only one item and that was the potential use of the city’s Madison Street property. Many are familiar with the property, as it was the old drive-thru of Chase Bank. However, the city would like to start seeing the property as part of Jawbone Park.
The Planning Commission invited the community to attend and take part in the discussions to solicit new ideas, but made no recommendations at the meeting. The ideas gathered during the meeting will be shared with the City Council in the context of Buckhannon’s 2025 Global Plan.
Rylands City Councilor gave a brief history of the property and the town’s intention behind the original purchase. “When we negotiated to buy this property, the intention was to expand Jawbone Park as a destination or event space. The property is in a floodplain, which is why it was not really taken over by the developers or anyone during the few years they were trying to sell it. With that intention, probably 4-5 months ago, I said you know, the COVID-19 restrictions were still in place, and I spoke to Mr. Vannostrand, the city architect, and some people like the mayor and the recorder and a few others, and have had a few pre-planning sessions to try to identify what might be, what is out there and what we’re looking for, ”Rylands explained. “But it is by no means, as Susan said, written in stone. We are not going to start construction tomorrow. So, now that we are able to meet in public and have some feedback from the community, that’s why we’re here tonight.
Vannostrand provided an explanation of the layout and existing structures of and on the property. In doing so, the municipal architect explained that his recommendation for the use of the property would be to have green spaces as well as two parking lots, possibly contiguous. This idea has apparently touched a few members of the community, as a parking map created from Buckhannon already shows 498 parking spaces.
Two members of the Upshur-Buckhannon health service, Chris Garrett and Emrebe “James” Arhuidese, raised the idea of using the property as a permanent structure to accommodate bathrooms. They believe the structure could provide the community with an opportunity to meet the sanitation needs of families and people visiting the park. With the increasing use of Jawbone Park, the need for sanitary facilities is also increasing. “The permanent structure can reduce the smell of portable toilets. Access to toilets with running water is a great addition to the public, ”said Arhuidese.
A pay-as-you-go facility has also been put in place to help address vandalism and maintenance issues in the city. The toilets located at Jawbone Park are not unlocked during the day unless an event is registered through the town of Buckhannon.
Rise Hanifan, director of Christian education at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, spoke about the 2025 Global Plan and the lack of mention of parking. Hanifan said the plan mentioned in several places the need for more outdoor activities for people. “I didn’t see anywhere in the plan that we needed more parking and green space. I don’t have a problem with parking or green spaces, but we live in West Virginia, and everything is green around us, ”Hanifan said.
Hanifan instead came up with the idea of a community paddling pool or skate park. Several other members of the community spoke out in favor of the idea of a family-centered event space. In addition to the support, help was offered in the fundraising department of the idea. However, some have come out in favor of returning the property to the residential area. Some residents would have thought that the residential area should remain just that — residential.
These are just a few of the suggested ideas that will be forwarded to City Council for consideration. The community was also invited to attend town hall meetings to offer further explanation of their ideas.
The Madison Street property is said to be used for the betterment of the community, but for now, the decision as to its use remains uncertain.