Proposed New YMCA Sparks Debate

By: Philip Stewart Email
By: Philip Stewart Email

May 30, 2007

The YMCA could be on it's way to Charlottesville, but not with out a bit of controversy first.

A forum Wednesday night was held at Carver Recreation Center in Charlottesville. A lot of people turned out. And they brought along with them lots of different opinions.

What was certain were costs of the new facility and the proposed locations.

A new YMCA would cost about $14 million. The "Y" itself has raised about half that much, and the city or the county might pick up some of the rest of the cost.

It would be build at either PVCC, the Carver Recreation Center, or one of three locations within McIntire Park.

But what wasn't agreed upon was whether or not a YMCA was the right answer for a community looking to provide all it's young people with a place to belong, and where they could get involved in positive activities...

"I'm a huge supporter of the "Y," if they commit to serve our kids, and not my kids, but everybody's kids," said Robin Cordle, who, at the forum, described himself as a middle-class, white male.

Others said they would rather the see improvements made to neighborhood parks, before creating a facility that not everyone might have easy access to.

"I mean think about it, if you want to take your kids to the park for a couple of hours, you can just walk the child to the park," said Rosa Ayres, a resident of Forrest Hills. "You don't have to worry about your car, driving out somewhere, and maybe not find a parking place. Keep it in the neighborhood."

"I'm for the YMCA building," explained Steve Ivory, who said he spent much of his time growing up in the city's parks. "I'm also for bringing the parks back into the community. The way everyone's talking we could do both."

A representative from Gold's Gym and a former ACAC employee both made comments Wednesday night. But some of their comments were taken negatively by at least one woman who said the two came with only one intention.

"Their sole goal is to make a profit, and that's great," said Michelle Cruz. "But the reason they were here tonight," added Cruz was, "to put down the "Y" and to falsify information that is incorrect about the Y."

Despite those differences in opinions, most of the residents though it wouldn't be a matter of if a YMCA came to Charlottesville, but when and where. And that the most important thing to take into consideration was the impact any decision would have on the young people in the community.

So far, the city has not committed to any funding for a new YMCA. But, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed in November 2005 to support the project and set aside about $2 million for the new YMCA.

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