Town hall on future of YMCA/city contract draws more than 250 people
(This corrects a previous version of this story.)
More than 250 people packed into the Sherwood Center for the Arts Tuesday night for a town hall meeting in which they answered questions about the fate of the Sherwood YMCA, the city-owned recreation facility whose contract expires in October 2018.
The meeting included filling out surveys with questions pertaining to the future of the YMCA. Those same questions were written on large butcher block sheets manned by members of the Sherwood City Council who wrote down comments from those in attendence.
The questions included:What do you like about the current programming offered?
What additional or different programs would you like to see?
What should the city's role be in relation to a recreational facility?
If the existing recreational facility were to be expanded, what should be include? For example, larger pool, racquetball court, etc.?
If the city were to consider selling the facility, what factors should be considered?
The sheet had space for additional comments as well.
Based on some of the answers to the public questions and audience applause during suggestions of the future of the city's relationship with the YMCA, it appeared that the majority of those attending the town hall were in favor of having the YMCA continue to run the recreation center.
Among comments received from Sherwood City Councilor Kim Young's group were that residents were supportive of many of the YMCA's current programs and activities including the swim team and youth camp programs.
Councilor Sally Robinson said some respondents in her group were a little leery about making suggestions for additional programs fearing it would be taken as a criticism of the YMCA. She said that was not the city's intention. Robinson noted, however, that several major points were driven home "one of which was to keep what you have with the Y."
"One of the really important things was keeping Silver Sneakers," she said of the exercise program designed for senior citizens.
Councilor Dan King said some of the residents who were in his group mentioned that the city should sell the building to the YMCA.
King said he personally would like to see the city sign a new contract with the Y. Discussions of renewal of the 20-year contract between the city and the YMCA — and criticisms of that contract by some — have been ongoing for several years now.
Councilor Jennifer Kuiper said residents in her group were big supporters of expanding the current swimming pool and aquatic facilities. That might include adding a separate lap pool, a salt water pool and even installation of a retractable roof that could make a portion of an expanded pool either an indoor or outdoor facility.
Councilor Sean Garland, whose group looked at what should be considered if the city sold the facility, said the majority felt if it was sold, it should only be sold to the YMCA.
After the public suggestions were revealed, Mayor Krisanna Clark encouraged those who wanted to turn in separate comment sheets so they could be added to the overall record. The city will soon post comments and suggestions regarding the YMCA on the city's website.
"It has been a fabulous exchange of information," said Clark. "I'm very excited that you guys came here."
While the councilors were in their groups trying to determine what the public wanted, one Sherwood resident told the Gazette she was supportive of keeping the YMCA in its current form.
"I've been going to the Y since we moved here in '96," said Faith Brindza. "The Y is the only reason I'm walking."
Brindza said she used the YMCA programs for rehabilitation after having knee replacement surgery. She said she could not afford to go to the YMCA if a gym, such as 24-Hour Fitness, took over.
Also at the town hall was former City Councilor Dave Heironimus, who said he felt the majority of people he talked to were supportive of keeping the Sherwood YMCA as the organization that continues to run the recreational facility. Heironimus not only campaigned for the original bond to build the city building but was on the original design committee as well.
Also in attendance at the town hall was Mark Burris, chief operating officer for YMCA of Columbia-Willamette. He said the Sherwood facility provides 10 percent of the 2017 budget.
"We spend much more time on it just because we want to make sure people get to keep their facility," he said of the YMCA, which includes residents from 3,000 households.
Regarding the fate of the city and YMCA's relationship, Sherwood resident Susan Claus noted that the city has grown significantly from the time the YMCA opened in 1998 when Sherwood's population was 6,000.
"I'm supportive of what makes the most sense in a city of 18,000 now," she said.
Meanwhile, the city is moving ahead with plans to see if there are any outside agencies interested in running the Sherwood YMCA. City Manager Joe Gall said the city will soon go out for a so-called request for proposal.
"We don't anticipate many proposals but we're likely to get at least two," Gall said.