A significant, and very exciting, challenge awaits Ashe County over the next several months: an attempt to bring a YMCA into Jefferson Station in downtown West Jefferson.
The momentum to have Jefferson Station be the location of a new Y has been building for several months after the building’s owners indicated a willingness to offer up the facility if the well-known Christian organization would consider opening here.
The opportunity offered by the building’s owners is priceless, but there is an enormous challenge that lies in their gracious offer – the community must step up with a significant financial investment.
At least $2.5 million will be needed for the effort to be a success.
According to the CEO of the Northwest N.C. YMCA, most of the money would be used for the renovations of the facility. However, at least $500,000 will be needed to create an endowment that would sustain the operation for the first few years while annual membership fees grow to the point where they can maintain operational expenses at a nearly break-even level.
It has been some time since an effort of this magnitude has been asked of county residents. The establishment of the Ashe Memorial Hospital is perhaps the only example of that type of community commitment.
However, before that significant fund raising effort begins, there are several steps that must first be taken. First, there will be a feasibility study in which 30 or 40 county residents are interviewed to learn if the kinds of services offered by the Y would be a good match for Ashe County.
After the feasibility study a “gap assessment” study will be completed by Y officials to insure the services offered by the Y will not overlap with existing county services.
Those two steps could present challenges to siting a Y here.
It is not inconceivable that some of the services and programs the Y offers are not already offered here.
The feasibility study and the gap assessment will answer those questions.
We’d offer that much of what the Y has to offer would be needed in Ashe. If not, we’ll soon know.
In the meantime, if the two studies indicate the county can support a Y, then the heavy lifting will begin – raising a bunch of money.
Ashe County has stepped up and met every challenge it has faced. We have no doubt making the Y a reality can be achieved.