City Leasing Parkland to YMCA

It’s official: council voted last night to let the Young Men’s Christian Association establish a private fitness center on several acres of McIntire Park, Seth Rosen writes in today’s Progress. In exchange for a forty year lease on $2M in parkland and $1.25M in cash to build a lap pool, CHS’ swim team will be given priority in the swim lanes. The vote was 3-2, with Kendra Hamilton and Julian Taliaferro voting against it.

69 Responses to “City Leasing Parkland to YMCA”


  • It’s o.k. for the city to lease/give away 4-5 acres of park land for a building and parking lot, for a YMCA acquatic/fitness center but not build the Meadowcreek Parkway on parkland. Where is the rationale in this thinking.
    The YMCA center will serve only a small percentage of the population of Charlottesville and Albemarle county (swimmers) while the Meadowcreek Parkway would serve a majority of the residents of the city of Charlottesville and albemarle county.
    This city council (Norris, Brown and Lynch) has destroyed McIntire Park. They had might as well go ahead and allow the rest of the park land to be developed for affordable housing.

  • It was wonderful of Taliaferro and Hamilton to give such thoughtful consideration to this issue and I appreciate their voting against giving away (the lease is one dollar a year) city parkland to a private institution. As Ms. Hamilton stated, “altering it for all time.” I thank them for listening to the citizens and hearing our concerns. I wish I could say the same for Norris, Brown and Lynch.

  • I’ve had mixed feelings about McIntire Park, and this plan in particular; however there is a bigger picture here that might be considered…

    This arrangement will effectively free up some money and other space for park projects. Also, the Meadowcreek Parkway (which I’m actaully not a fan of) will actually end up increasing parkland if I understand it correctly. As part of the deal for the Parkway, they’ll be adding some new parcels to it in the north.

    It’s also important to note that what we’ll really be losing here is mainly some softball fields that aren’t used much anyway. True, they could have just readapted them to another purpose, but it is a relevant factor. After all, if this YMCA deal didn’t happen, then the city would need to build more new public pools and facilities itself. By “outsourcing” this responsibility, it can turn its time and resources to other things.

    One factor that I hope was addressed is that there may have been a Historic WPA garden site where the new YMCA is scheduled to be built. I mentioned this to council, I’d I hope the site plan made sure that that particular site would be protected.

  • “We’ll really be loosing is mainly some softball fields that aren’t used much anyway”, Lonnie where have you had your head these many past years? Those softball fields are used from early spring when the weather starts to break until the first frost of fall.
    I’d much rather have softball fields and playing fields in the park than a huge building and paved over park land.
    What do you mean by “outsourcing” this responsibility it can turn its time and resources to other things. How about being specific and not speak in generalities….The city by its own admission could have renovated Smith and Crow pools for approximately $2.5M each, and no park land would be lost to a building and parking lot.
    This was a bad idea from the get go and the city council fell for an idea which will in the near and long term cost the taxpayers way more than it ever would to renovate Smith and Crow pools and keep them as neighborhood pools.
    The city should have given the YMCA a matching donation as Albemarle county did and send them on their way. Instead the city gave them the crown jewel of the city park system and millions of dollars.
    I say shame on Brown, Norris and Lynch.

  • I agree. I can’t see the sense is letting a large private gym and parking lot be built on our parkland. That space should be used as softball fields or some other outdoor recreation/green space. This is all for a small percentage of the population that swims. If it were to cost too much to renovate both of our current pools, we should have only renovated one and let the YMCA be built at PVCC. That’s not that far for city folk to travel.

    McIntire has always been a sad park instead of the jewel it should be. Now with this development on one side and a highway being built on the other, it seems we’ll never have a large, prize park that this city deserves.

    Is this the final word on this topic? Is there time for this to be reversed?

  • That’s not that far for city folk to travel.

    Actually, that’s exactly why they didn’t choose PVCC. In my understanding of the issue, they wanted to the YMCA to go somewhere that lower income city kids could get access to it.
    I can understand Jogger’s perspective that we should have spent the 5 million to renovate the pools ourselves. Of course, that’s go to come out of the budget somewhere. I think that kind of argument should come with solid ideas about where the money is coming from.
    Also, regarding the usage of the softball fields, that’s just what I was told. It’s true that I’ve never actually gone out there and verified it myself. I also want to be clear that I’m not necessarily for this YMCA project, but I did want to bring up some of those issues since I thing they weren’t being addressed.
    For example, we technically aren’t losing any parkland to the Maedowcreek Parkway, since we’ll be gaining additional property as part of the deal. One might say that we’ll lose specific parts of McIntire, and perhaps the quality will suffer, but in terms of quantity I’m not sure that’s an accurate argument.

  • This is a sad day indeed. Not only are they letting park land go to a private organization, but worse a religious organization. Hey, how about some other park land for a giant tele-evangelist monstrosity. They could make some real money for that. Nothing like community property some are not allowed or don’t feel welcome to be on. I think perhaps they should just carve up and sell of the rest of the park, and then perhaps focus on other or new park areas to keep as, oh I don’t know, parks.

  • DandyTiger,

    As a religious minority, that ones one of my major concerns as well; however, apparently the local YMCA has a policy that specifically prohibits decrimination or proslytizing based on religon (unlike the salvation army which does both).

    Lonnie

  • The precident has been set. How can the city council turn down any religious group in the future who wants a piece of the remaining park to do good for the citizens of our community?
    These people (YMCA) came before city council with nothing put a pie in the sky plan and walked away with the golden goose. They actually got from the city $3.25M and 4/5 acres of park land probably valued at somewhere around $5-7M. Not a bad haul for a bunch of beggars (YMCA) who didn’t even have two nickels in their pockets to rub together before this whole thing started.
    Oh…I forgot Norris will probably want the remainder of the park land for affordable housing.

  • There may indeed be some replacement parkland added when the parkway gets built, but like replacement wetlands, it will be a pretty pathetic substitute. The number of acres of parkland may not change, but the entire length of the park will now be a new freeway instead of a stream, with all the noise and pollution that constant traffic brings. The park will definitely be degraded.

  • pdp8,

    You very well might be right, and that’s the kind of topic I’d like to see addressed… I do, however, know a little about the plans for that area and I think there is still the potential for quality greenspace if done correctly. I suspect next year we might start seeing the first pieces of that new master plan for the parks, and it’ll be important to have people advocating uses of that space that genuinely create habitat and greenspace. Otherwise, it may indeed just become soccer fields and fake wetlands.

    Jogger, you may be surprised that there’s absolutely nothing unconstitutional about religious organizations contracting with the government to the same services another private agency might do. That was even true way before Bush’s “Faith Based” initiatives. What they couldn’t legally do is discriminate or proselytize while using government money.

    In fact, few people realize that what Bush’s Faith based initiative really did was to allow faith based charities to accept money while allowing them to discriminate on the basis of religion and proselytize. I don’t seriously think that’s a possibility though in this circumstance because I believe the cities own policies would prohibit them from contracting with any organization engaged in such activities. Nonetheless, it is still our job as citizens to vigilantly keep watch over the wall that Jefferson built. One real concern I had was what might happen if the YMCA had a change in leadership, like the Boyscouts did, and then started openly discriminating. I certainly hope there is something in the contract that would force them to then release the land back to the city.

    As I said before, I’m not necessarily in favor of this project, but I think that if citizens are going to speak effectively against it, than we need to get the facts right and address the real key issues involved.

  • lonnie since you seem be all knowning and have the facts and know the real issues could we please have a list of the “right facts” and a list of the “real key issues involved?”, 1,2, 3 and so forth. Then perhaps we will all be enlightned.
    I stand by my opinion that these scandrals (YMCA) came before council with no money in hand and walked away with nearly $10M of city taxpayers money and park land. Park land that will not be replaced. Wetlands certaintly don’t make up for what the “Y” is getting. You can’t play softball on wetlands, ride a bicycle on wetlands, or take a walk through or on wetlands.
    I look forward to your list of “right facts” and “key issues involved” since you claim or imply to know more than anyone in this blog about this particular matter. LOL

  • Lonnie,

    I’m glad to hear from you that the Y currently does not appear to discriminate or proselytize. It would be very important to see language in any contract between the Y and the city that if the Y is caught doing that, the city then gets everything back. I’m sure the city has such anti discriminatory laws in general, but it would be nice to see it addressed in the actual contracts with religious organizations.

    Of course separate from that is the issue of cutting up and selling off public park lands. For the life of me I can’t figure out why a city would ever give away such resources. That’s the thing about land, they’re not making more of it. And even worse, it gets harder and more expensive to make open public park areas every day. When you give that away, it pretty much never comes back. There should be a special punishment for city officials that give away such a precious resource. No matter what good thing they think will come of it.

  • Lonnie, I’m afraid this is the fartherest you have ever been away from the “fact.” Unsually your’re near the bull’s eye. ” …they wanted to the YMCA to go somewhere that lower income city kids could get access to it.” Lower-income kids do not live anywhere near that site. They live miles away and certainly not withing walking distance. They will need to be bused (for free) to and from. They would also have to be bused to PVCC so that expense is equal.
    The replacement park land is due to the Parkway, and, according to Kevin Lynch, is not of the same usable quality as what it is replacing. There is not replacement land for the acres used by the YMCA.
    Once the facility is built, the City can not take it over because, although it owns the land underneath, the County and the YMCA contributors will have a say. The building will be owned entirely by a private concern, the YMCA holding company.

  • The City has two indoor pools now, one at Walker and one at Buford. It will have two indoor pools under this plan, a cold water at Buford and a warm water at Buford. Except that, since the current structure will most likely be demolished as will the Walker facility, it will be a far more expensive “upgrade” of pool facilities that the estimated $7M to remodel both of the current facilities.
    The facility at the Park will be much larger than pool size; it is to be a “superior” facility with enhancements greater than those of ACAC. The building of such a facility was the impetus for the City’s seeking a private partnership in the first place. Evenutally, they will be building both softball fields and soccer fields, justified by membership demand. In twenty to thirty years this facility will be in the same predicament as today’s facilities, in need of remodeling, reprogramming or redefining and there will most likely be a call for a completely new facility. The current ones are a little over 30 years old now.
    So far, contracts have been signed for the lease but nobody has any idea of how invasive this facility and its parking lots will be because nobody knows it size or what it will be used for. It’s another open-ended deal that’s still in the design phase. The public will have little say as it has had little actual say so far in the process. Why? Because there’s nothing concrete on the table for the public to see and discuss. This is the way we do business in Charlottesville. No, as a recreational park, open space or wildlife refuge, that park is gone.

  • It’s disturbing that the ymca recieved such a great hand-out from the city. Currently, i live near Buford and the pool is easily accessible to the low-income people in my neighborhood. This will change when the pool’s relocated to the more affluent part of the city. The close indoor pool was one of the reasons i moved into my neighborhood and i’d like to get something in exchange for my/our loss (perhaps a depreciation on the appraisal of my property as it will have fewer attractions). This change is a distinct change AWAY from the neighborhood model of providing services to the community. Should i also mention that it would have been less resource intensive to refurbish what already exists?

  • oriah, currently it is proposed to have two pools at Buford, a warm one and a cool one.

  • Thanks, i had thought the plan was to close both indoor pools. I’m glad my neighborhood will continue to have a pool. I haven’t seen info on what happens to the kiddie pools. They both appear to be in need of repair as well.

  • I appeciate the comments I’ve been reading on this issue. For all the good reason that have been discussed above and especially that this prime piece of McIntire Park should never have to be turned into a huge building complex and parking lot. I am convinced that this is a terrible mistake that our “old Council” has made that needs to be rejected by the “new Council” as soon as possible. This cherished piece of park land needs to remain park land for the citizens of our community as it has been since it was donated to the City in the 1920’s. There seems to be one (and maybe more) ways this could be accomplished if our “new Council” has the vision and courage to stand up to the powerful forces that pushed this give-away through in the first place. There is still the need to rezone the park to allow for this building. That decision begins with the City’s Planning Commission. I would encourage and trust them to turn down this rezoning petition. If they will do their duty and turn down the request it remains for the “new Council” to make the final decison on the rezoning. I believe we can argue that there are many good reasons to turn down this request. I hope you will join me in supporting the future of McIntire Park and the beauty of the open space that can be enjoyed by our entire community.

  • It makes me wonder who’s really pulling the strings around here and who stands to gain. Have you noticed that when Council members attempt to explain to the public why they voted for something that has a lot of opposition, they present the weakest of the most shallow of reasons? “It’s for the best interest of…” “The children will…” “Highest and best use…” “Long term benefirs…” “The least invasive…” “Greater value for the dollar…” “Opportunity to leverage funds…” “Win-win (all-time favorite)…” using a lot of vague jargon that they think shows superior wisdom when it actually only serves to clue the public that they don’t know what they’re talking about. None of them even bothered to come up with any of that crap when they supported the new fire and rescue facility in the Fontaine Avenue area, which I hope shows a growing respect for the public. If the public wants a signal to the times they don’t know, pay specail attention to all of the statements that begin with “I think.”

  • Park Lover do you see anyone on the “new council” who has the backbone to stand up against this decision made by the “old council”? Norris and Brown are still on council and you can bet they won’t change their minds. After all Brown and Norris don’t want to appear stupid, giving into the will of the people or have a little “egg” on their faces.
    I still can’t get used to the fact the city entered into a 40 year agreement with a religious organization, and doomed the crown jewel of the park system.
    Parklover keep us informed as to when this will come before the planning commission so that hopefully some of us who want the park to stay as it is can voice our opinions once again.
    I guess this is the price we pay for living in a “World Class City.”

  • If Council continues to sign preliminary agreements with the YMCA, the Commission will feel compelled to change the zoning in order for the City to avoid law suits. This is the danger that the novice members of Council do not forsee when they don’t wait until they see the whole package before forming an opinion. Somebody has told them that voting on concepts has no binding impact and they don’t know enough to ask “Why sign anything?”

  • What exactly has council signed with the YMCA? or have they just entered into a verbal agreement to lease the park land for $1 per year for the next 40 years? It appears to me if they haven’t signed anything then there is still time to reconsider this decision.
    Also, is council leaving itself any escape clauses in the signed or verbal agreement?
    There are just so many unanswered questions and this “deal” was put together much, much to quickly without any short or long term thought on the consequences or input from the public.
    Lynch, Norris and Brown completely misread the public support and sentiment on this project.
    If there is any way to stop this project, it needs to be done.

  • From the November 5, 2007 agenda: “WHEREAS, the City of Charlottesville seeks to lease property in
    McIntire Park located within the City of Charlottesville for the purpose of
    allowing construction and operation of a community fitness and recreation
    center; and

    WHEREAS, Council for the City of Charlottesville finds that such lease
    is in the best interest of the City, as the construction and operation of a
    community fitness and recreation center by Piedmont Family YMCA, Inc. shall
    provide the Charlottesville community and general public with new aquatics
    facilities; youth, adult and senior recreational opportunities; health and wellness
    activities; and therapeutic recreational programs, as well as enhanced cultural and
    enrichment opportunities; and…”
    The property was not just leased to the YMCA; included in the lease is the intended purpose. It does not say it is contingent upon the PC’s recommendation for rezoning. Perhaps the PC got its chance to weigh-in during its CIP review?
    I wonder how much it’s going to cost the City to put in new water and sewer lines?

  • From our story at Charlottesville Tomorrow:

    “If Council does not approve a plan for the facility by May 20, 2008, the Piedmont YMCA will proceed with a proposal to build on the campus of Piedmont Virginia Community College.”

    We don’t take a position on this issue, but we do have the new Councilors on record as to where they stand on the YMCA.

    At the Greenbrier forum on October 10 of last year, Holly Edwards said she lamented that the children who need the facility most would not be able to walk to it, and Satyendra Huja said he would have liked to have saved the existing pools, but that it would be possible too expensive.

    We have the audio and video of that event posted on our blog. The topic came up under audience question 4.

    Julian Taliaferro was also one of the no votes at Council’s December meeting.

  • Thanks, Mr. Tubbs; checked-out your website. I also went back to the draft contract released before the Council meeting and it clearly states in 10(B) that the lease does NOT imply automatic approval for re-zoning, site plans or types of facilities. I assume all of that will have to go before the Planning Commission. I hope they are aware that they are not obligated to approve the re-zoning or structures.

  • As a green activist I actually have mixed feelings about this deal.

    Re the YMCA as an appropriate vehicle: I used YMCA facilities in other towns and never found them to be “religious” in the sense of “evangelical.” At least no one tried to convert me while I was in one. If the goal of the YMCA/YWCA is to spread the word of God through after-school programming, they did a pretty poor job when I attended. The fact that the organization is backed by Christian money does not prevent them from offering a needed service and a good facility. The primary question, for me, is not the “who” of it, but the “whether” of it–do we need this kind of facility? If so, then, in my experience, the YMCA has traditionally done a good job of providing it, so why not let them?

    Re the loss of green space: I’ve been on the record at a few public meetings over the years as against the McParkway project. A couple of years ago, when walking McIntire with a couple of P&R committee & staff, I expressed my primary reason for wanting to use McIntire for a festival site: To wit, it is underutilized and underappreciated. First, it’s inaccessible by bus; second it’s darned difficult to get to by foot and bike traffic. The 250 Bypass and railroad tracks truncate and bisect it. Yet it has some beautiful acreage, the trails are a pleasure to walk once you get there, and yet, softball players and golfers aside, I can walk a couple of miles in either the west or east portions without seeing anyone enjoy the open space of it. McIntire was my favorite park as a child and I felt then that it was a park–a community space, but over the years it has become a “destination” like an anchor store at a mall where you drive to it for a specific purpose and then leave.

    Everyone who has been involved in Parks in the past decade has had a vision for it–none of those visions involve making McIntire into a concrete jungle, but they all seem to involve increasing people’s access to and enjoyment and use of the space. A total outdoor/indoor experience with soccer field, gym, skatboarding & biking trails; a nature preserve a la Maymount with a limited zoo; a botanical garden a la Lewis Ginter with regular plant ID hikes and native species progagation stations; a community symbol a la Central Park in Manhatten–all these dreams and visions have been discussed with me and I’m guessing there are probably a half-dozen more that haven’t been. But the first thing on everyone’s mind (that I’ve talked to) and the one item to do is give the public a reason to be in the park so that they care and become invested in how it is used. Which means bringing them back to using the park as a park, instead of as an end destination for a softball game or a reunion picnic.

    This is long-winded; I apologize. I’ll try to shorten it.

    Of all the visions, the gym facility was my least favorite because of the concrete, but I appreciated its concept for two reasons: (1) increasing student/youth programming creates a demand for bus service and better ped/bike access to the park and makes it more likely that those items will come online sooner. Does the means justify the ends? Maybe so, in this case. That’s up to us as individuals to judge and could be a whole argument in itself. I’ll leave you to think about it. (2) if kids and adults get into the habit of coming to McIntire for fitness and after-school programming, then how much easier would it be to use such a central facility as a draw to other, greener uses of the park, such as the trails, or any gardens and educational programming that might take place? And I’ll also leave that open to debate.

    So, for those reasons, I don’t hate the thought as much as I once did. I would like to see any installation follow green-building guidelines, perhaps even become LEED certified. Porous surfacing or green-roofing would be a great bonus too.

    Tatyanna

  • TLPatten, why is there a rush all of a sudden to get more people in the park? Why must open space be accessible? Why not wait until a really good use comes down the pike? What’s the sudden urgency?

  • I don’t think it’s a sudden rush. The City did a huge survey on what kinds of services Parks & Rec should provide, the results of which were presented in late 2006, I believe. I remember filling out the survey and later sitting through the report at a council meeting. This facility meets some of those goals/needs while also addressing a couple of questions of where to go with McIntire in general. The park redesign plans have been ongoing for even longer than that–and those get dusted off and re-shelved regularly because the back-and-forth on the McParkway issue.

    I can’t claim to know why the sudden urgency, but if you want me to hazard a guess on what might motivate it–I’d say the YMCA package itself. If you’ve got five or six possible plans on what you’d like to do with a space, and someone comes in and says “Well, we’re building a facility in the next couple of years that fits into one of your plans… do you want to partner? If not, then we’re going elsewhere.” That becomes a pretty big motivator in itself to make a decision on it. I don’t know how married to the idea of one plan over another staff and council were before this, but if many were leaning “youth facility” to begin with, then partnering with a major YMCA facility now becomes much more attractive than competing with it later if it established itself at PVCC. If you’re looking at it as a business decision, that is.

    Then there’s a frustration factor. If there’s an idea, dream or plan hanging that keeps getting tabled because other political concerns play into it and someone comes along and offers a way to do a chunk of it without having to get into that political mire again, it becomes awfully tempting to act and greenlight the project, doesn’t it? You finally get to say “Well, this at least we CAN do” and move in a direction.

    Again, as I say, I’m guessing. I’m going strictly on how I would feel if it were, say, the botanical garden idea or nature preserve that were given such an opportunity and how I might decide in such a case.

  • Oh, and as to why it might be a good thing to encourage people to
    visit the open spaces we have left, there have been studies showing that our kids are out of touch with that natural cycle and their environment. It’s call “Nature Deficit Disorder,” and it links our plugged-in, isolationist modern lifestyle with such common childhood issues as rising ADD and obesity levels. You can find a synopsis of the study and related links at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3907/is_200601/ai_n17172522

    Which brings me to my third, very personal hope/reason for not hating a YMCA in McIntire: If you use such a facility in such a place to get kids to love the outdoors again, maybe they will turn into better stewards of it than previous generations have been. No one cares much about what they don’t see.

    Tat

  • Appearances can deceive. Long before Svetz came here to head up P&R, the YMCA had proposed to build a large, multi-purpose center somewhere in the City. At that time, it was a contest between the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA for the city’s children. The Y emphasized that it wasn’t just for children, but all ages. B&G gets a lease from the City schools for a facility at Buford. The City P&R, with Svetz at the helm, issue a survey. It’s announced that the oldest indoor pools are not like those at Bath, G.B. that’s been around since Roman occupation, that they need to be demolished. The expense is so great, it’s time for the community to decide if it wants to continue with the “outdated” neighborhood recreation plan or to go to the more current “centralized, all-encompassing, mega-facility” plan. When I attended a focus group, even I was amazed how it didn’t take ten minutes for four city meeting-frequenters to propose an “ACAC-type” facility that would be cheaper (centralized plan). I questioned should the government go head-to-head in competition with the private sector and was told this facility would be for those who could not afford the private sector. That became the focus of the focus group — deciding what would we like to see in this facility. Christmas wish-list making procedure. The results were reported to Council as having over-whelming community support, when actually most people in the community still have no idea what’s to be in the YMCA facility. And, lo, the YMCA steps out of the shadows and say (for the one-thousandth time) “That’s exactly what we would like to do, provide a multi-generational activity center. Isn’t it wonderful that we happen to be in the right place at the right time?” Then it became the issue of whether the City would “lose” the facility to the county by placing it a PVCC. Nobody planning to use the facility that can’t afford ACAC, Gold’s, etc. can walk to either one of them. Neither one of the sites is in a central location.
    I’ve noticed that the process accelerated after Johnny Ellen retired and Parks was re-united with Recreation. Perhaps facilitating the coupling of the City with the Y was why Svetz was brought here in the first place.
    So, once we had two indoor pools at two small recreation centers and now we’re going to have two indoor pools (one cool and one warm at Buford), a large B&G Club-operated recreation center at Buford and a larger recreation complex at McIntire run by the YMCA, and the City tax payer thinks he’s getting a bargain. It has never dawned upon the movers and shakers that the B&G and YMCA will be hitting up the same people during their annual fund-raising campaigns and the City will be left picking up the tab (everybody knows the county tax payers won’t). Both entities know that they can sell anything to the City fathers if they attach “can’t afford” to it.

  • TLPatten, sorry I didn’t see your follow-up post because I was so busy writing mine. How are these kids going to experience nature when they will be riding to and from on a bus and playing inside in a climate-controlled big box?

  • The big box hardly takes up all the acreage that is McIntire. The fact is not too many are seeing it now anyway. It’s not convenient because there aren’t many other activities going on in that space and regular self-use transportation options that encourages them to visit, linger and use the space. Whether we like it or not, our kids have grown up in a mall-mentality world where one-stop shopping rules. If you have a programming facility on site, then you have an automatic place to capture an audience for things like trail hikes, plant ID walks, cross-country running, and activities that take place out of the big box in the same area.

    Sure kids can already sign up and participate in such things–Wild Virginia, OASC, Sierra Club, Parks, and a dozen more have such activities all the time, but it takes effort and parental cooperation for the average kid to join those groups and participate. If you’re being dropped off at the Y for an afternoon anyway and you see a notice for a trail hike that starts within 100 feet of the door, you are more likely to get involved in such activities. Make it easy for them to take an interest in the beginning and maybe they’ll like it enough to incorporate it as a lifestyle. This isn’t gym class–we shouldn’t be grading kids on how many sit-ups they can do. We should be using whatever tools we have to encourage behaviors and interests we believe to be healthier. That’s why I can’t see this as an evil–I see it as a potential tool.

  • “If you have a programming facility on site, then you have an automatic place to capture an audience for things like trail hikes, plant ID walks, cross-country running, and activities that take place out of the big box in the same area.” I haven’t see any indication that any of these activities will be offered by the YMCA. Will there be a fee? Maybe the City will rent the facility from the Y to provide these offerings, I don’t know. Has any of these kids expressed any interest in these activities before or is it “If you build it, they will come?” Where is the evidence that anybody wants these activities?

  • TL- thanks for your thoughtful comments. It is not a conspiracy – it is a policy that will work for our City and save the taxpayers money.

    I doubt we should make government policy decisions based on availability of donors to non-profits- this town has over 700 non-profits most dont receive funding from the city and those who do go through a serious review every year. It is easy to have an impact on these decisions early on- stop complaining and participate- I dont win every battle I choose to fight, but I certainly feel like I made a difference because I had my say.

    Svetz is making up for YEARS of neglect and inefficiency. Thank goodness. As a result of his efforts we will likely get more open space and better programming for all City residents.

  • Jennifer, as I am becoming more and more fond of saying, “The proof is in the pudding.” By the way, are you and TL planning to join?
    I believe in a previous post, you said that the YMCA will be picking up the cost of running this facility. Wouldn’t that depend upon their being able to secure donations? Or has the plan now changed to the City will be the major contributor and nobody’s been informed.
    I agree, Mr. Svetz has done an admirable job of presenting this to Council. My point is, it was the direction Council was going in the first place. He’s just showing them how to get there. I believe that’s why he was hired. He’s a hard-working City employee doing his job.
    I did not say there is an evil conspiracy here, just the usual decisions-made-then-sell-it-to-the-public process. I did participate early on. I just don’t waste my time trying to improve upon a bad idea. Sow’s ear, silk purse.

  • Cville Eye, your remarks about walking to McIntire go back to point #1 in my original post. If use of McIntire goes up, then it creates a demand for the kind of walking/biking/bus access improvements that will allow non-car access to it. This is a Catch-22: Do you make it more accessible and hope more people will come because it is, or do you increase the use and then meet the demand with accessibility? Either way there’s expenditure.

    Which way do you want to crack the nut, or do you believe the nut doesn’t need to be cracked at all? As a fan of both alternate transit and encouraging more use of urban parks, I accept both are needed, and I don’t much care which is used to gain the other first. But everyone knows I’m a tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping enviromentalist, so of course my own agenda starts with the premise that if you lead people back to nature they will come to love and protect it. I’m an optimist that way.

  • Having a different opinion does not make you a “tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping enviromentalist.”
    Good government policy with long-term effects involving the expenditures of millions of dollars should not be based upon “if,” “may,” “maybe,” or “hope.” Unfortunately, these words have been used throughout the City’s discussion of this proposal. It’s called “Let’s spend the tax dollars and see what happens.” I wonder just how many people actually think that’s a good way for government to conduct its business. I don’t, especially since the City comes up with new “priorities” heaped upon old priorities every year. How much is this facility a priority to the City or is it something we’re going along with because the YMCA (a bunch of county resident – board members) happens to be at the door?

  • Jennifer, as I am becoming more and more fond of saying, “The proof is in the pudding.”

    Then I should do you the favor of pointing out that you’re misquoting that in the same way that 95% of people do. :) The expression is actually “the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” which makes a lot more sense.

    Having a different opinion does not make you a “tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping enviromentalist.”

    That’s not what TLPatten means. She means that she is, in fact, a tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping enviromentalist. :)

  • Yes, Waldo, you are right. Sometimes I just say “Proof…pudding.” I didn’t want TLPatten to think I was agreeing with her assessment of her thoughts and thought little of what she had to say.

  • Cville, Waldo knows me–I am as I say I am. I like to say it out loud, and frequently, so that my agenda is obvious. I don’t consider it a slight; I consider it my preferred lifestyle.

    As for spending millions on programs and improvements that don’t seem necessary–well, I’ve seen quite a few worse projects get funded by the City. Most things get funded because someone believes, hopes, and wishes it will become a solution to an issue. FTR, I didn’t press Council either way on this one–I stayed solidly on the fence during the entirety of the debate because, as noted earlier, I personally could see both sides. But yes, I will probably get a membership when it goes up, if I’m still living in town. I can’t afford ACAC.

  • Do you mean if you will stay in the area? Membership will not be limited to City residents. Don’t forget the County has promised several in construction and start-up funds. I don’t know if you belong to one YMCA you belong to all or not, but membership may be transferrable.
    And, no, I will not be a member. I don’t join clubs and I have never belonged to a fitness center. I’ll just keep scratching in the dirt around here and cutting the grass.

  • Oh, I simply meant that by the time this gets built, I or my boyfriend may have taken a job elsewhere, necessitating a move.

  • I hope to become a member, I cant afford any other gyms and have had terrific experiences at YMCAs in other areas, plus the pool at Buford is a tad too far for regular workouts.
    TL- dont go anywhere, where are you going? stop even considering it- I appreciate the way you speak your mind around here (meaning in public and with your name attached).

  • I like the way TLPatten put it when she said “So, for those reasons, I don’t hate the thought as much as I once did.” In fact, I’d have to say that I agree with her just about on all points. Of course we have a similar agenda so that’s probably not terribly surprising…

    Basically it comes down to the fact that McIntire (East or West) really isn’t reaching its full potential in terms of usage. I’m not terribly thrilled about the YMCA idea, but then again I can’t say that I’d ever use the existing softball fields, while I might use the YMCA. Personally, I’d rather see the city build its own recreation/community center but that takes huge amounts of money and deep commitment from the taxpayers towards making it happen.

    Most of all, I want to see better access to the park, including the Eastern side. As Svetz mentioned to me, their vision is that the Western side will be more “active” use and the Eastern side used for more “passive” use (trails, Botanical Garden, natural area, etc.) If it takes building a YMCA on the Western side to get commitment and funding to create quality greenspace on the Eastern side too then I suppose I’m for it. The truth is that that with some significant exceptions the quality of forest and habitat the Parkway is going to take isn’t terribly great. It’s very young forest and filled with lots of invasive species. It would take a while, but as long as there is reasonable soil and water then it wouldn’t be hard to create habitat and greenspace that’d be far superior. True, this doesn’t have to be an either/or, since the city could keep the Western piece as is, not build the Meadowcreek Parkway, and still rehabilitate the Eastern half. Once again though, that’d take a huge amount of public will to make happen and I just don’t see it at this time.

  • Lonnie, where do you think the money is coming from for all of that? The YMCA is pledging a total of $5M for a building they say will cost a minimum of $14M. That’s a lot of control for so little money.

  • I think one of the problems with the YMCA is that it will be unaffordable to many. I do not qualify for the school free lunch program, but also cannot affort private gym membership. So, where does this new plan leave city residents like myself?

    Also, the council did not survey the CHS kids to see if this new privately owned facility is something they are interested in using. And, I don’t think it is. There are tons of choices for CHS students to do after school. There is no shortage of opportunities at that school (multiple after school sports, music, an OUTDOOR CLUB, Forensics, Debate, Theatre, etc.) I have noticed that the problem is more that there is not enough time to take advantage of all the opportunities offered. I know it’s sad, but there are some students who choose not to join any of these groups or to be outdoors, because that is their preference. And, I know that there will be certain rules and guidelines for being at the YMCA. While this is understandable, it will rule out those kids who don’t choose to follow rules and don’t like to be told what to do. Mr. Lynch says that he thinks the YMCA will keep some of these young kids “off the downtown mall.” I disagree. Unless frequenting the YMCA is mandatory, I don’t think it will change anyone’s behavior. And why should it?

  • parent, according to material provided to Council’s November 5, 2007 meeting (in the online background material) the YMCA says that people need to supply them with their previous year’s income tax filing and their last two pay checks. For those who do not work, I have no idea what they do.
    If you think about it, this is one proposal where you will find few quantities to support anything. Right now, it’s still in the wish list – charge card phase.
    When you think of it, most of our Councilors in recent years have had no experience spending $1M when they come on Council, so I shouldn’t expect them to know how to decide how to spend $135M. I’m just glad that they are not in charge of my health care yet.

  • Yes, I understand that the YMCA said they would require two pay stubs and a copy of income tax form. Several council members (Taliaferro and Hamilton) balked at that idea and I think rightfully so. Nobody wants to provide that kind of information to be allowed to use a gym! So, according to Lynch, the free lunch info will automatically be fed to the Y from the school system. I have no idea what happens if you do not have school age children and want to use the Y.

    I think it’s important to note that the YMCA runs a youth basketball league in Charlottesville and has for many years. The city also organizes a youth basketball league. My kids have always played in the city league and enjoyed it. It’s free to city residents. I have attended several YMCA league games and have noticed the Y league is predominately caucasian while the city league is more representative of the make up of the city in general. I would assume that is because the city league is free while the Y charges a registration fee. So, if the YMCA is really about helping the underpriviledged in Charlottesville, then why wouldn’t the programs they already run show that they do that. I think the YMCA is offering the promise of future discounted membership to disadvantaged citizens because they think that will cause the current council members to give them land and money. And, unfortunately for all city residents that plan worked.

  • The school system has no right to give information it gathers about the families of students for participation in a federally funded program to a private entity. Nor does the City have the right to give out information it collects for eligibility for any of its programs, tax abatement, CDBG loans, utility assistance, free bus passes, or even the residents’ names and addresses to this private entity. I gave Jeanne Cox my email address for the purpose of sending me her information. She can not and has not given it to the Director of Finance. She needs my permission first.
    The excuse that YMCA has is that it gave the City information on how it was going to collect that information before hand. Mr. Lynch can say whatever he wants, because he has no control over how the Board of the YMCA establishes its policies.
    Oh, this is going to get interesting.
    You’re right about this vague promises.

  • C-ville Eye, I think either your missing part of the details of this deal, or you’re not understanding what I’m saying. The YMCA is only being given a lease on the wastern portion of the park. They’ll have no say on the Eastern side. That’ll still be under the parks.

    As far as where the money will come from for rehabilitating the western side and/or creating a Botanical Garden, that already in the works. In fact, if the city approves a botanical garden for that site then there are already private donors lined up to donate to the project and grants that would apply. Of course, it might not go there; other places (like the parkland donated from biscuit Run) are being considered. In that case, the funding for restoration would have to come from the parks. That said, they’ve done a great job on other projectsm and while this is a larger scale I think there’d still be many grants that would apply. the smartest was to do it though would be to require the restoration as part of the Meadowcreek parkway project, then some V-Dot funds could be used.

  • Lonnie, maybe I see clearer than you think. “he funding for restoration would have to come from the parks.” Funding does not come from the parks, it comes from the local tax payer. So far, it appears you support my statements that, contracts are being entered and nobody has a plan, since there is no plan nobody knows how much this project will eventually cost, since there is no plan nobody knows exactly where the money is coming from. This is not the way government should make decisions. When you go on vaction, do you head in the western direction, not knowing where you going, where you’re going to end up, how you’re going to get there, where you’re going to stay, how much money you’re going to spend or how you’re going to pay for it? Well, let’s see Peter owes me a coupla hundred, and granny always gives me cash for my birthday, and daddy has a friend that might be convinced to help if I call it a travelogue, and there’s always kindness from strangers. You sound like a great person, but I’m not going anywhere with you pardner.
    The eastern portion of that park will have bumper-to-bumper traffic. That’s why they’re trying to install an interchange rather than use traffic lights. Few people will get much use of that narrow strip between the parkway and Park Street. Earlier, citizens were assured there would be plenty of open space on the western side well into the future. Make no mistake about it, that complex will continue to grow. Why? There’re going to need a lot of members to partially support the operation financially, so they’re going to have to contnually grow in their offerings. They are going to have to lower the price of membership to try to appeal to a broader segment of the population as parent is implying.
    Most of the future plans that you have spelled out have not been presented to the public. You may have heard them in some meeting somewhere. These are expensive plans. So are re-doing the Mall, adding 14-foot wide sidewalks to W. Main, renovating and updating our schools, adding more city employees, raising teacher salaries, water and sewer projects, sidewalks and drainage projects, bridge repair, new fire station and ambulance service, fire equipment, police cars, recreation center maintenance, traffic projects, and the list goes on. Currently, there is no plan anywhere to determine when or how most of this is to be funded, but I guarantee you it will be mostly funded by the city tax payer. Nor is there a list of priorities. It’s just the usual brainstorm on what else we can possibly want and add that to the wish list. For example, when did a botanical garden become a priority for city residents? Is it more important or less important than a cool water pool at Buford?
    Anybody can sit around and dream up wonderful things to have, it’s a different matter when it’s the relatively small number of people in the City who will have to dig even deeper in their pockets to pay for it. Everything else is going up but our income. Oh, and grants usually require a substantial local match.

  • Cville Eye,

    I think that the commenters on this blog are all savvy enough to know that anything that comes out of a municipal budget is paid for by taxpayers. I would guess from the rhetoric you choose to use–bringing everything down to the taxpayer–that you are of a libertarian bent: Less government, fewer (or no) taxes.

    But since taxes are being collected to provide the public with common, indivisible goods and universally-needed services, and a public park is something that comes under that definition, are you saying that we shouldn’t use those taxes to:

    (1) contribute to the YMCA project although most people on both sides of the political aisle having been touting public-private partnerships as a way of offsetting some of the costs of such common, universal goods and services; or

    (2) build a botanical garden, although, once again, there are ways of offsetting those costs through grants and matching funds (which, as Lonnie already mentioned, there are several donors who are willing to contribute to such initiatives if they get approved); and/or

    (3) renovate McIntire and/or P&R programming in any way at all, because you think that the tax monies should be spent elsewhere?

    You see, I’ve always thought that the problem with the way this City does citizens’ groups and surveys is that they don’t allow for a clear, concise choice, a la, “We have $7.5 million in discretionary funding. Here’s the list of projects you guys have said you want to see happen in the City and the last estimated costs for accomplishing them. Which ones do you want us to ask staff to prioritize?”

    Is that kind of financial transparency what you want to see happen at the local level with taxpayer money? If so, I would agree with you.

  • “You see, I’ve always thought that the problem with the way this City does citizens’ groups and surveys is that they don’t allow for a clear, concise choice, a la, “We have $7.5 million in discretionary funding. Here’s the list of projects you guys have said you want to see happen in the City and the last estimated costs for accomplishing them. Which ones do you want us to ask staff to prioritize?”
    Yes, I agree. No, I do not consider myself a libertarian when it comes to taxes.
    From many previous conversations with Lonnie that I have thoroughly enjoyed, I have seen that sometimes I need to be more pedantic. I wanted to impress upon him the enormity of the loacal demands and that I fear he was looking at the issue with tunnel vision when it comes to finance.

  • RE: YMCA Youth basketball v. city youth basketball — we live in the county, our child plays YMCA youth basketball, and it is not predominately caucasian. Just one more pointless bit of anecdotal information to add to Parent’s.

  • Quibble all you want, make all the pro and con points you want, BUT once open space parkland is lost it is lost forever. I for one do not want to see either McIntire east or west become a built up big box with acres and acres of paved parking.
    The YMCA idea was bad in the begining with too many unanswered questions and it is still a bad idea with even more unanswered questions.
    If this project has to go through then I would rather see it put at PVCC.

  • Okay, Cville Eye, we get it. You completely dislike the YMCA idea. Lets assume that your the director of parks, what would you do with McIntire instead? What would your vision be?

    Personally, I think that things like this YMCA project are created to fill a void. We really need more citizens with vision to come forward with good ideas of what they’d like to see in the parks. Without that kind of public vision, I think it becomes easy for any large organization to step in and come up with a use for what is being poorly utilized. After the fact, the complaining of citizens seems just like, well… complaining. To be truely effective we should be advocating for better alternatives.

    As to your request for a plan from parks for a Master Plan of McIntire as a while, it is coming but it is held up somewhat by the by the uncertainty of the Meadowcreek Parkway. I also think the YMCA has to some degree taken advantage of that uncertainty to propose a use for the Western portion.

    Now regarding your earlier comment about what the public has asked for in terms of priorities, there was a survey done and, as I recall, quite a lot if people wanted more natural areas, trails and true greenspace. Also given that biodiversity and sustainability are both parts of the cities mission, I think it makes alot of sense to give the public what they’ve asked for. A botanical garden would be one way of doing that, which would both create greenspace, biodiversity and attract tourists and locals alike to experience nature in a way that’s simply not available anywhere in central Virginia. You’re right that the plan for that isn’t published yet, primarily because its waiting on that master plan I mentioned. That said, there was an article done about it in the past year in either the Hook or C-ville, after they’d listed it as one of the top things Charlottesville is missing.

  • Yes, there was a survey done in a wish list fashion. What happened to the idea than many people supported of an enhanced nine-hole golf course with extra practice tees? Or the paddle-boat pond? A lot of people liked that. I heard support for a petting zoo. Not only is Charlottesville missing a botanical garden, it’s missing a lot of things.

    Getting a lot of people in groups for the purpose brain-storming as to what COULD happen and what they actually think SHOULD happen from a wide range of areas on a list of priorites together with suggestions for paying for it are vastly different processes with predictably different outcomes. The first method is what teenagers do; responsible governments don’t. I have no opposition to a botantical garden. I like the ones that are not overly humid. However, I would rather the City take care of other projects, such as sidewalk and flooding first. We’ve got tens of millions of dollars worth of storm drainage that needs to be put in place and they are talking about raising everybodies taxes for that. I would rather they fix the Belmont bridge first. That will also involved millions of local funds in addition to federal and state funds. That park is hot a priority because it is not a necessity, it is a nicety.
    This botanical garden, can the City afford it and maintain it? How many more employees do we have to hire for that project? My pockets are not cavernous.
    95% of Albemarle County is designated as rural. Wouldn’t a botanical garden be better there?
    Tell me Lonnie, do you see any resemblance to this decision-making process and the one I outlined earlier on a trip west?

  • Does all open space park land have to be better utilized? What’s wrong with open spaces where we can escape the concrete jungle we live in? I for one like to take walks on good old mother earth, and not always have pavement and concrete under my feet.
    Why does the park have to be a theme park destinaton? If I want kings dominion or bush gardens I know where they are and will go to them if I please. There is no need to turn McIntire Park into a Kings Dominion/Bush Garden theme park destination, swimming facilities, botanical gardens etc.
    As for kids going to the “Y” after school for activities, well, you know and I know kids have “better” things to do with their time than participate in planned activities. It just ain’t goin to happen.
    Also, where are the “big donors” the “y” was suppose to have lined up to donate to the project once the city and county committed? I haven’t seen anyone stepping up. Has anyone else?

  • “As for kids going to the “Y” after school for activities, well, you know and I know kids have “better” things to do with their time than participate in planned activities. It just ain’t goin to happen.”

    I agree with this. I do not believe there will be enough kids to fill a bus from CHS to the proposed Y each day. And, the bus is an added expense (for the city). The kids who are interested in using that kind of space after school can be found at Crow each day. There are air hockey tables, a gym, a place to make pottery, games, pool tables, etc. There is a blacktop with hoops as well. And, it is all steps from the walking trail. And it’s FREE.

  • Charlottesville has a school system that has struggled to meet state and federal standards for student achievement. Every year we increase loacl spending for programs that are supposed address these deficiencies. Council’s solution: play a little ball before dinner. You’re right, the kids have something “better” to do, learn how to be something other than furniture movers and applicants for “affordable housing” subsidies. Maybe, if we had a statistically higher level of education in our local workforce, we could get some of those hi-tech companies to locate here in these almost-empty research parks and the W. Main Street corridor. Council has said that the drop-out rate reduction is of highest priority in its allocation to the schools, how does putting the YMCA play complex right outside the high school’s door fit in with that?

  • Are you telling me that the “Y” is putting in a $17M aquatic and fitness center for our high school students to enjoy after school, and they will need a bus to get them to the facility. The high school is only “a hop skip and a jump” from the “Y” proposed facility. If the students are to lazy to walk that little distance what makes everyone so sure they will use it in the first place. After all swimming takes effort, being fit takes effort.
    I for one am tired of bending over backwards for the “children.” I am tired of seeing all my tax dollars go towards an education system that is broken and for before/after school activities for children when in this town they don’t appreciate or use what is provided for them.
    This YMCA aquatic and fitness center is certaintly not going to change one thing with our dear little children’s habits.
    It’s adults that use aquatic and fitness centers, and we as adults certaintly don’t need this type of facility to get our selves fit and do a few laps of swimmiing.
    This project needs to be reconsidered by the “new” council.

  • Jogger- 17M is not being funded by taxpayers- moreover, $17m isnt necessarily the pricetag. Second of all, the proximity to the Y to CHS is a big advantage but the bus is not to get them to the Y from school, but to get them home after activities at the Y, similar to the activity buses for the football team etc.

    The project was considered extensively for over a year. The new council should not review this decision since it went through the democratic process already. For goodness sake just because you dont like the decision doesnt mean we should be reconsidering it over and over again- how would government ever function? Leaders are meant to lead, that is why we elect our Councilors- as with every democracy sometimes one constituency wins, sometimes another does, but Cville leaders in my opinion act in an earnest, honest and forward-thinking way, not compelled by venom spewed at them in private or public. Having said that, I certainly dont agree with them all the time. Democracy is a beautiful messy system.

  • Council’s previous decision to lease the land to the Y does not bind them to giving the YMCA any money. That’s the way democracy works, too.

  • This project was done from July 2007 to Dec. 2007 with very little public education about what was going to take place with the YMCA (a meeting at the carver recreation center and two council meetings and done). As I recall towards the end of the discussion between council and the YMCA the YMCA was promising any and everything to get this “deal” approved, pie in the sky, just give us the money and land. We’ll make it happen.
    I believe councilors are elected to listen to all sides of the argument and in the final analysis make a decision which will do the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of the citizens, NOT the greatest amount of good for the fewest number of citizens. An aquatic and fitness center as proposed by the YMCA falls into the greatest amount of good for the fewest number of our citizens. Therefore, this decision needs to be re-visited by the new council and opened up for further discussion. Way too many questions should have been answered and public discussions should have taken place before this quick decision.
    Jennifer, sorry if you think my comments are venom spewed, but if that’s what it takes then so be it. Once the park is built over its too late to turn back the hands of time.

  • jogger, welcome to the reality of politics in Charlottesville. Remember it was said that the impetus for the discussions on pools in the first place came about because the costs of renovating the two existing pools at Walker and Burford was exorbitant. The proposal at Buford now costs more than the original cost of renovation released. BUT YOU’RE GETTING SO MUCH MORE! in bills. I can only wonder what the discussion would be if Haskins and Kleeman had been elected. I guess that was the point of their not being elected. Everybody can join the pack and be positive. La,la,la,la.

  • Jogger- you are not spewing venom.
    Moreover, I, along with the rest of the Parks & Rec Advisory Board have been working on this for over a year (Dec. 06 when we started considering it). We listen to the YMCAs proposal skeptically many times, we listened to the Parks staff, we talked to people – all sorts. We decided the public had the right to hear this proposal because historically it had been not given a public hearing.

    We looked at the parks system as a whole- the facilities are a mess from years of neglect – do we build two new pools, fix two new pools or … should we consider the idea of one big rec facility and the Y so that the taxpayers dont have to pay as much as we are currently paying on MAINTAINING two pools, nevermind facility upgrades?

    If we had just let the Y go to PVCC without a debate, there would have been questions about that- why would we let a $17m facility end up a PVCC when we had this great place to put it next to the high school and we wouldnt have to support so many facilities? We looked at it from a true taxpayer point of view – we are tired of paying $10,000 a month in natural gas for one facility- it is too much and cville deserves a better solution than just throwing our money at it. So we thought a public debate would be better than nothing. That the unanimous opinion of P&R board and staff prevailed was never a guarantee, we really had no idea how the vote would come down until Dec 17th and even then the debate took an ominous turn at one point.

    Council acted as leaders, they are going to save the TPs money over the long-term, the fields in McIntire will be reprogrammed to hopefully serve MORE City folks (with the high school students most among them) than they do now while master planning for the rest of the park occurs, and we get a new facility at Buford which will be much more efficient and probably environmentally friendly (as will the Y most likely).

  • “We looked at the parks system as a whole- the facilities are a mess from years of neglect – do we build two new pools, fix two new pools or … should we consider the idea of one big rec facility and the Y so that the taxpayers dont have to pay as much as we are currently paying on MAINTAINING two pools, nevermind facility upgrades?” The plan is to build two new pools at Buford plus a spanking brand new recreation center. Where are the savings on the existing city pools? I noticed the YMCA proposal has already jumped from $14M to $17M and the design and programming stages have not yet begun. I wonder why the committee or Council has not bothered to issue a financial proposal to the tax payer. No, I don’t wonder, I was being rhetorical.

  • “That the unanimous opinion of P&R board and staff prevailed was never a guarantee, we really had no idea how the vote would come down until Dec 17th and even then the debate took an ominous turn at one point.”

    Jennifer, there was only one council meeting where the city citizens were allowed to speak and give their opinions on the YMCA proposal. Thirteen people spoke at that meeting and ten of them spoke against building the YMCA in the city. At the Dec 17th meeting, the public was not allowed to speak about the YMCA/McIntire issue.

    In your opinion, what was the “ominous turn?” Was it when Ms. Hamilton requested that the issue require a unanimous vote like other parkland use issues?

    While it’s true “leaders are meant to lead,” I would appreciate elected officials who listen to their constituents.

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