Caring Politics

What would the new downtown YMCA look like?

January 21, 2013

YMCA logo

One of the hottest topics downtown is the proposal that the YMCA relocate its downtown facility to the Community Maritime Park. The YMCA board hasn’t said much yet on the idea, but I found in my notes of a report that outlines what the YMCA does for the community and what the facility may include.

Early last year, the YMCA conducted a planning study to determine the availability of funds and resources to develop a new downtown YMCA. After interviewing community leaders, the Y realized a new Downtown facility was needed because the existing facility does not adequately meet the current and future needs of the community. The non-profit needed to raise $10-$12 million for the project and before any capital campaign was launched the YMCA needed to secure property for the new facility.

In a Community Benefit Report given to the Mayor’s Urban Advisory Committee, YMCA CEO Michael Bodenstein wrote:

“A new YMCA facility located in Downtown Pensacola will provide those who live and work in the community with a hub for recreation, health and wellness. A new facility will expand and extend our ability to meet the growing needs of the youth, teens, families and seniors in our area. Many indicated that, a central Downtown location is a needed economic catalyst for further development in the community.”

Some Y Facts submitted by Bodenstein to URAC:

In 2011 the Y:
Served: 10,000 people
Financial Assistance and Subsidies: $473,000
Contributed Income from the Community: $252,000
Government Funding That Helps Us Provide Needed Services (includes grants, contracts and vouchers): $122,000

The Y reaches about 5,000 youth each year, providing a wide range of activities to nurture potential and growth, including teen leadership, sports leagues, and affordable, quality childcare.

• In collaboration with Escambia School System, every October, we host a safe trick or treat Halloween event to 300 special needs children who normally would not be able to.
• Each year, we provide 650 school-age and middle school children a safe, nurturing after-school program, located at 13 sites. On average, about 40% are receiving scholarship.
• Each year, approximately 2,000 children participate in Y sports.
• Each year, we teach about 1,600 youth swim lesson.

The idea of family is central to the Y mission. We believe healthy families produce strong communities and are built by doing activities together within the family unit and the community. YMCAs provide ways to involve the whole family in healthy living.

• We provide activities open to everyone in our community, including physical activities, fitness evaluations, nutrition advice and more
• On average, about 10% of our members receive some sort financial assistance with membership.
• We reach out to health seekers who are new to exercise and may feel intimidated or overwhelmed.
• Many of today’s active older adults adopt a lifestyle filled with active hobbies, travel and volunteerism. The Y has responded by offering group fitness classes such as water aerobics, yoga, Spinning, Pilates, and Silver Sneakers that are senior-friendly, plus a safe and non-intimidating environment for strength training.

As a far as the new building the YMCA told URAC:

A recent independent study confirmed that the YMCA is uniquely positioned to partner with a local hospital and other community partners to provide a Y that will be a centerpiece of the new Healthy Lifestyle Village. It will be a unique place where people can learn and improve their health and quality of life.

Conceptually, a combination of private and public funding could make possible a new 40,000-square-foot YMCA that will serve residents, particularly in the underserved areas of Pensacola. With modern workout equipment, nutrition counseling and supportive staff, the Y will support lifelong health enthusiasts and first-time health seekers in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.

Proposed highlights of a new facility could include:
• Indoor pool
• Gymnasium
• 6,000 square-foot state-of-the-art Fitness Center
• Multi-purpose Group Fitness Rooms
• Family Prime Time Center/Teen Center
• Child Watch Center
• Indoor Climbing Wall
• Outdoor Education Center (including walking trails) and much more!

Seventy-five percent of the households in the immediate vicinity of the desired location have an annual income of less than $50,000, and 62% of children receive free or reduced-price school lunches. The community needs organized, safe, accessible programs for youth, teens, seniors and families for all ages. A new YMCA will be that place for the residents of Pensacola for generations to come.

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  • CJ Lewis January 25, 2013 at 6:58 am

    A better spot for a new Downtown YMCA would be Corrine Jones Park (620 East Government Street) directly across from the ECUA property. The YMCA could lease all or part of the 3.83 acres of Corrine Jones Park from the City for fair-market value.

  • dot January 22, 2013 at 7:45 am

    I have only heard fair market value land lease, but it has been recognized that as a non-profit there will be no ad valorem collection.

  • oops there it is January 22, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Rick – several parties are “selling” the YMCA deal as a “replacement” for the museum that never was. I beleive the museum was going to pay $1 per year for its site, ergo the number Dale is referring to. See what happens when the various spin machines get cranked up – facts kind of get left out of the mix. Let’s keep building shiny new buildings while the poverty and violence issues rage out of control – what a brilliant community strategy!

    • Rick Outzen January 22, 2013 at 7:37 am

      So no one has said that the Y will get land for $1 a year. Spin exists on all sides. Agree we should wait for facts…and, yes, poverty and violence are raging.

  • Dale Parker January 21, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Henry, I do not see anyone _____ & moaning about anything. What I do see is people very concerned about the financial health of the CMPA, its impact on the City’s budget. The CRA and its impact on the City budget. Both are in financial trouble and either one fails, the City will be responsible for the balance.

    You have to consider that when placing a 1.00 per year lease in a park that cannot make its bills now.

    • Rick Outzen January 22, 2013 at 5:45 am

      I haven’t seen anything about the CMPA or City giving the land to the YMCA for a dollar-a-year lease. Where you are getting that information?

  • Broken January 21, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Spread the money around to revitalize the other decrepit YMCA buildings. They are all in dire need of repair.

  • Henry January 21, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I’ve never seen a city anywhere else where someone makes a generous offer to help move it foward, only to have a group of people bitch and moan.

    If Jesus Christ stood at Garden and Palafox handing out $100 bills and total absolution, somebody would complain.

    Not everyone in Pensacola is like that, granted, but I’m surprised the Studers don’t pull up stakes and go to another city that would appreciate them a bit more.

  • Dale Parker January 21, 2013 at 10:20 am

    I think that the offer is generous, however, if Mr Studer REALLY wanted to give the Y a gift it should not be with strings.

    With regard to the park, quite frankly the park is in financial trouble as admitted by Rick on his recent TV Show appearance. The CRA cannot afford the debt service a little over 92,000,000 and currently 2.6 million per year. That increases to 3.1 Million in a year or so when the principle amount kicks in. In fact, in a recent budget summary, the CRA is now shifting 100s of thousands of dollars to the City’s budget so that it can focus its resources on the Debt Service. (in my opinion this is an end around to the citizens paying the debt). Worse, they are predicting total collapse by 2017 or earlier.

    The CMPA failed on a 500,000 dollar loan and is running huge deficits due to lack of income from the Park which will become a subsidy from the Citizens of Pensacola eventually if a solution is not found.

    The park simply cannot afford ANOTHER 1.00 per year lease no matter how nice the offer is. Megan Pratt said it best, with the loss of the 1910 Fishing Village theme and the Maritime museum a new plan must be made before we make any decisions. My opinion is, that we must hire a developer with contacts to national chains and hotels, get out of their way and allow them to do their job developing the parcels and generating revenue for the CMPA and City.

    If something is not done soon, this park will start to creep into the City Budget and either services will have to be cut or taxes raised. Unlike the CMPA, the City does NOT have the luxury of not paying its bills and running deficits. They must balance by law.

  • dot January 21, 2013 at 9:44 am

    I think the Y can probably better accomplish this mission elsewhere in downtown. Land lease from the private sector and at less per sq ft cost. Lower building costs further away from waterfront (I’m not a waterfront building naysayer – it can be done, and done successfully…construction techniques and the elevation of the site will make it resistant to flooding and wind loads…but those considerations do add to the construction costs) Savings in land lease and lower building costs can be reinvested in the building or their outreach. They can even still get waterviews if they are just across main street, say on a tiny portion of the ECUA property (which should be subdivided back into 6 city blocks). or School Board property. There is a lot of private land having to compete with all this govt land as well. Not sure if they own their current site property, but even razing that building might serve them better. It is a nice active use to have on the CMP site, but I don’t know that it’s in the Y’s best interest. That’s for their Board and eventually their paying members to weigh. Not sure I’d be a very happy paying Y member if I had to compete for parking during a concert, event or game if I just wanted to get a work out…or that my cycle or zumba classes were constantly canceled due to event conflicts. Some other active uses on that site might be a better match/complement to the area activity…