By BRAD KELLAR
The Greenville YMCA building turned 50 this year.
It is not looking good for its age.
Plans for a new and much larger YMCA inside the Greenville SportsPark have been discussed for more than a year, but the need for the facility is growing daily.
Jerry Ransom is one of the individuals involved in fund raising for the new building and appeared before the Greenville City Council this past week to ask that the first steps be taken to place a bond issue on the May 2013 election ballot.
“If something is not done very soon, it will have to close in the near future,” Ransom said. “If something isn’t done soon, then the children of our community will be lacking, as the Greenville YMCA will close.”
Kelly Gaudreau, CEO/Executive Director of the YMCA of Greenville and Hunt County, said the organization will do its part to establish a facility that has the potential to benefit a wide range of the population.
“This is a community project,” Gaudreau said. “The city can partner with us and help us.”
The fund raising campaign to build a new YMCA in Greenville was formally launched in June 2011.
Organizers have set a goal of $10 million for the project to construct a new facility.
“I’m happy to report that approximately half of those funds have been raised,” Ransom said.
Several community partners who have already committed to the project and the measure has received support from the general public.
“We are still raising the money,” Gaudreau explained.
The local organization dates back to 1895, when it was the fifth YMCA in Texas. The YMCA has been in several locations in Greenville, including Burleson College and the First Baptist Church. The existing 24,000 square foot facility was built on Stanford Street in 1962.
A series of studies revealed it would be just as cost effective to build a new structure of up to 60,000 square feet than to tear down and rebuild the existing building.
The Greenville Independent School District and the Hunt Regional Healthcare Center have pledged support for the effort and L-3 Communications/Mission Integration was first major contributor with a $50,000 donation.
The Hope Center and the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Texas are among the other agencies who have expressed support for the project.
Ransom asked the City Council to appoint a 15-member committee to investigate the feasibility of calling for a bond referendum vote next spring, crediting Gaudreau’s efforts on the project.
“You can’t believe how hard he has worked on this for the past year or more,” Ransom said, also noting that a new YMCA can help provide a lure to professionals who seek modern athletic facilities. “It is also vital to economic development.”
The new YMCA would include a larger pool, a wellness center more than three times the size of the current one, a rock climbing wall, a teen center, a cafe, a computer lab and a chapel. The facility would be able to host and conduct expanded programs for cooking, camping and music.
Gaudreau said the studies have shown the YMCA’s membership could triple, should a new facility be built, adding that some of the money raised toward the project will be dedicated to an endowment fund toward future maintenance.
“We’ll take care of that building,” Gaudreau said.