Rec. Authority votes ‘no’ on partnership with YMCA

Published 4:54 pm Friday, April 20, 2018

The Bainbridge-Decatur County Recreation Authority heard a motion Tuesday night to form a subcommittee that would meet with the local YMCA for discussions on potential partnerships, but the motion died for lack of a second.

New Recreation Authority member Greg Smith, who has also served on the YMCA board for almost three years, presented the Authority with the idea of opening discussions about collaborations on programs to offer to the Bainbridge community.

Smith said the YMCA board had already formed a subcommittee of its own to meet with the Recreation Authority’s subcommittee if it voted “yes”.

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“We’re not putting anything in stone, we’re not spending any money, we are not making any agreements at this point,” Smith said. “This is just an exploratory thing, that’s all that I am asking for at this point.”

Smith emphasized the YMCA was not proposing a buyout or a merger, but more along the lines of a contract where resources could be shared to offer the best programs possible to the community.

Al Kelley, executive director of the Recreation Authority, referenced previous attempts at collaborating with the YMCA when the City of Bainbridge ran Bainbridge Leisure Services years ago, saying that the Leisure Services was left with the majority of the work.

“We got no help from the Y,” Kelley said. “We did all the work. That was under a different administration.”

Since new CEO Suzanne Brandt has come onboard, Smith said the YMCA’s financials has been running in the black, but it needs an extra push to help rebuild its position in the community. A partnership with the Recreation Authority would help in that effort, he said.

The problem the Recreation Authority had with this proposal was the lack of benefit for the authority in the long run. As an example, the authority discussed possibly renting the YMCA for programs such as wrestling and swimming while it builds its new multipurpose recreation complex at Bill Reynolds. After those programs leave the YMCA, though, members argued it might hurt it.

Recreation Authority member Tynese Butler saw the benefit of hosting programs at the YMCA, but believed it would ultimately hurt them.

“Another plus for the Y is, if we collaborate and hold programs out there, then that brings more people to the Y’s facility,” Butler said. “They might decide, yes, I want a membership here. My concern is when it shifts. There won’t be a membership for the facility we have out there. When it is all said and done it could potentially have the legs cut out from under them. It’ll work great for now, but on the back end it is going to be a biter.”