Feasibility study nearing completion; two more steps remain

Last updated: June 12. 2014 7:18PM - 1946 Views
By - abulluck@civitasmedia.com

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The process of locating a YMCA in downtown West Jefferson is slowly but steadily progressing along.

“It’s moving forward, but it’s a slow process,” Town Manager Brantley Price said at the regular meeting of the Board of Aldermen June 2.

Last week, Price and Mayor Dale Baldwin attended a meeting where they were briefed and given an update on the process by Curt Hazelbaker, CEO of the Northwest N.C. YMCA.

The Northwest N.C. YMCA operates facilities in Alexander, Davie, Forsyth, Iredell, Stokes, Yadkin and Wilkes counties.

The proposed location of the local Y would be the Jefferson Station property, in downtown West Jefferson.

Price said the Y uses a three-step process to determine if one will be successful in any given area, and the first step in the process is nearing completion.

The feasibility study, which is the first step in the process, will be submitted to the Y on June 23.

“That’s (the feasibility study) to see if there’s enough community support (for a Y),” Price said.

The feasibility study involves interviewing up to 40 people to determine whether or not a Y could offer services other county agencies do not, such as swimming lessons, literary programs, education camps and other youth-oriented programs.

There’s currently only one public community swimming pool in the county and that’s at Ashe County Middle School, but it’s only open to the public during summer months when school’s out of session.

“The second step in the process is the gap analysis to see what programs are missing in the area,” Price said.

The gap analysis involves looking at the types of programs offered by other organizations in the county and making sure there would be no overlap of services should a Y locate here.

“The final step would be a market study,” Price said. “That’s to see if people will actually join the Y here in the area.”

In the event that the Y determines a facility can sustain itself in the county, the next step will be a capital campaign to raise $2.5 million to renovate Jefferson Station to Y specification, and establish an endowment to continually support the operations of the local Y.

While there are plenty of Ys scattered across Central and Eastern N.C., there aren’t a lot in Western N.C., especially in the High Country. There are two Ys in Wilkes County, one in Avery County and one in Alexander County. There isn’t a Y in Watauga and Alleghany counties.

In the past decade, five groups in the county have formed and approached the Y about locating a facility in the county, but none have gotten this far in the process.

Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.

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