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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2007
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Something to shout about
YMCA supporters plan funding study

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

YMCA proponents hope to begin a fundraiser feasibility study next month to determine whether Decatur can build a $7.4 million recreation center.

The same research firm from Nashville that did a phone survey in November to see if local residents wanted a YMCA would conduct the fundraiser study.

The response from the November survey was outstanding, said John Eyster Jr., one of a group of local citizens trying to bring a YMCA to Decatur.

"Sixteen percent (of people surveyed) said they would join and that's about double the national average," he said. "They estimated that within two years we could have about 3,500 family and single members units."

That would be slightly higher than the 3,000 membership units at the Southeast YMCA in Huntsville that has overcrowding issues.

The group has raised nearly half of the $23,000 to pay for the feasibility study, and Eyster said if it shows the goal is attainable, he hopes fundraising can begin by the end of March.

Based on feedback from the November survey, the YMCA proposes a 40,000-square-foot facility that would have indoor pools, a wellness center and indoor walking/running track.

The overall price tag is about $7.4 million, which includes everything from bricks and mortar to exercise bikes to fees and permits, said Scott Mounts, president and chief executive officer of the Heart of the Valley YMCA.

The YMCA would borrow about $2 million to pay for it, he said, so the Decatur area would be responsible for raising $5.5 million.

That would make it the biggest fundraiser in Decatur history, almost three times as much as the annual United Way campaign has ever raised.

Mounts said the fundraisers take longer than a year. And if the fundraiser study showed Decatur could not raise $5.5 million, then the YMCA would come back with a smaller facility in keeping with what the community could support.

The YMCA would not have to buy land for the facility because an undisclosed church in Southeast Decatur has offered to donate it.

Eyster said he wanted to wait to announce the church name until after the feasibility study shows whether the project is doable, at which time the church will share its intentions with its neighbors.

He did say it was near Sixth Avenue and 14th Street and was within a three-mile radius of nearly 38,000 residents.

Mounts said that of the 400 to 500 people surveyed in November, only 12 percent said location would determine whether they would join.

Strangely enough, he said, the survey showed a site near Danville/Modaus roads Southwest was both the most convenient and least convenient place to locate.

Least needed

A YMCA survey showed Decatur residents feel the five least-needed services are:

  • Dance classes.

  • Adult sports league (except for senior citizens sports leagues).

  • Teen center.

  • Senior adult day care and activities.

  • Youth sports programs.

    - Heart of the Valley YMCA survey

    5 most wanted

    A YMCA survey showed Decatur residents said the top five items they want are:

  • Indoor walking/running track.

  • Cardiovascular equipment.

  • Indoor pools both for recreation and swimming lessons.

  • Health and wellness center.

  • Outdoor family fun pool.

    - Heart of the Valley YMCA

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