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February 26, 2013

Roads, YMCA/event center to go before voters

City Council adds bond measures to May 11 ballot

GREENVILLE — The Greenville City Council voted Tuesday to place two bond measures before local voters on the May 11 election ballot; one calling for the reconstruction of nine local streets and the other for the construction of a new YMCA/event center project.

If approved, the street bond package would require the issuance of $12.6 million in bonds to pay for rebuilding local roads which city engineers have identified as needing the most work, while $15 million in bonds would go toward paying for the new YMCA/event center.

The road bonds could add 5.13 cents to the city’s property tax rate, while the YMCA/event center could add as much as 7 cents, although organizers of the project say they have received commitments from several entities toward the cost of the facility which could reduce the potential tax burden.

Originally, the Council had considered selling up to $30 million in bonds to pay for work on 13 streets in Greenville. The proposition which will appear on the May 11 ballot calls for rebuilding Stonewall Street between Mockingbird Lane and the Interstate 30 frontage road, Sayle Street between Kari Lane and the frontage road, and Webb Street between Sayle and Wesley Streets during the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Stonewall Street from Park to Stanford and Wellington Street from Joe Ramsey to Lee Street would be rebuilt during the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Ridgecrest Boulevard from Canton to Sayle Streets, Morgan and Bourland Streets north and west of Carver Elementary School and Live Oak Street from Bonham to Nashville would be rebuilt during the 2015-2026 fiscal year.

The Greenville Chamber of Commerce submitted a position statement, also calling for the reconstruction of Shelby from Enterprise to Montana, which had been considered previously, but was not included on the proposition approved Tuesday.

“These are the roads that we feel are imperative,” said Mayor Steve Reid. “You are getting the most bang for your bucks.”

Regarding the YMCA/event center, Jerry Ransom, the chairman of the YMCA committee, said that even if the measure receives the approval of voters, “it would be the City Council’s decision whether to move forward with the project.”

Ransom said the committee believes the $15 million estimated cost was an accurate number, but explained costs per square foot for such project can vary widely.

“Until you really get an architect and you really get a plan ... you’re really not going to know the costs,” Ransom said.

The proposal calls for a 70,000 square foot combined facility, with a hotel style lobby, restrooms, porte-cochere, truck service entrance and storage space for tables and chairs to be built next to the Greenville SportsPark on Monty Stratton Boulevard.  When used as an events center the gymnasium would seat 600 people at round tables of 10. It would include a triple gym with walking track, climbing wall, indoor recreation and lap pool, wellness center, IT center, teen center and service areas designated exclusively for YMCA partnerships.

Ransom again noted the project has received endorsements from Hunt Regional Healthcare, the GEUS board, Paris Junior College, L-3, Cytec, and the Helms Hotels Group, which operates the Holiday Inn Express and Best Western hotels in Greenville.

He also recommended that should the proposition pass, the Council appoint a building committee and a management committee to oversee the construction and operation of the facility.

Those attending Tuesday’s meeting had a lot of questions about the project, many of which centered on what might happen to the existing YMCA building.

“Especially since the citizens of North Greenville are going to be foot the bill for this $15 million project too,” said Rev. Brian Keith Thomas.

Duane May said that despite all of the pledges of financial support for the project, if it is built, the facility would have an estimated $1.6 million annual operating budget.

“Things can always go bad and put another burden on this city,” May said.

Judge Andrew Bench, who serves on the YMCA board, said should the new facility be approved, the current structure at 1915 and the land it sits on will be sold. But he admitted the 50 year-old structure would not survive.

“That building has got to go,” Bench said, adding that the buyer would almost certainly want the building torn down. “It has no use left. Even as four walls and a roof, it has no value.”

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