Y is for Yes (in Concept)

ymca1Before a standing room only crowd tonight, the Pensacola City Council laid the foundation for a new YMCA at the Community Maritime Park. In concept, at least.

“The YMCA would like to know, is this a possibility or is it dead?” Councilwoman Megan Pratt said near the end of a three-hour conversation.

The council was asked to approve a lease with the YMCA for parcel number eight. Prime, waterfront real estate. The proposal was in turn described as a catalyst for community health, a driver of economic growth and a bad idea.

A large group of supporters—sporting blue MaritimeY t-shirts—flooded the public gallery. Others—hardly comparable in number—voiced opposition.

Mayor Ashton Hayward was there to offer his opinion.ymca, hayward

“We can turn this into a winner, and we should turn this into a winner,” Hayward told the council. “This is a winner, we need to support it. We’ll work the lease out.”

Several council members voiced concerns over how the lease was brought to them. They said the Community Maritime Park Associates should have vetted it first.

“I think the whole process has been thrown out the window and we’ve been set up on the city council to be either the good guy or the villain,” said Councilman Charles Bare.

In the end, the council voted 6-2, with Bare and Vice President Jewel Cannada-Wynn dissenting and President P.C. Wu absent, to approve the concept of placing a new YMCA at the park, while leaving it to the CMPA board to “hammer out” the lease details.

— more on Maritime YMCA in this week’s print edition