YMCA issue could be put before city voters

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Marysville City Council had some further discussion regarding the city’s possible purchase of the Union County YMCA Monday, including the possibility of letting residents decide themselves.
Councilperson Nevin Taylor asked City Law Director Tim Aslaner whether a ballot issue should decide the purchase.
Aslaner said that would be up to council to decide. He noted the City Finance Director Justin Nahvi has determined the city can afford the purchase.
“If council wants to take it to the citizens, then we can go that route, too,” Aslaner said.
Aslaner also said it would depend what the question on the ballot would be. Aslaner said the city would need to figure out if the ballot issue would be a levy, tax increase or simply whether the city should purchase the building.
“A levy was not part of what I was thinking,” Taylor said.
City Manager Terry Emery said council could discuss the issue further at next week’s work session Monday.
“We’re not under any deadline,” Emery said. “We can discuss this as long as we want to discuss it.”
Monday night’s discussion around the YMCA was spurred by Marysville resident Jermaine Ferguson, who spoke to council about the YMCA purchase. He said he supports it, but thinks officials should add more value to citizens.
Ferguson first asked officials to increase the number of potential seats on the YMCA board from three to five.
He also asked that citizens who buy a YMCA membership have access to Marysville’s municipal pool. According to Ferguson, that would save both individuals and families a substantial amount of money.
He also asked that the YMCA promote its financial aid programs for residents and families who can’t normally afford a membership.
“I’m not advocating for free membership, however, if the taxpayers are to make any investment, we should ensure that all residents can benefit from the services the (YMCA) offers,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson also said city and YMCA officials should solicit recommendations from residents regarding how to improve the facility. He noted that the current proposal is focused on immediate needs, but said a long-term plan should be developed to ensure the facility’s health going forward.
Finally, Ferguson said even if the city chooses not to purchase the building, safer pedestrian paths should be installed for residents to go to the YMCA.
Ferguson closed out his comments with a more personal plea.
“As a youth, the (YMCA) was instrumental in my personal development and the lives of my siblings,” Ferguson said. “Let us find ways to build upon what our community currently offers by continuing this dialogue between the YMCA and the City of Marysville to find a solution that adds value.”
Councilperson Mark Reams addressed Ferguson’s idea of opening up pool use to local YMCA members, and asked if it could be reversed.
“That someone who buys a municipal pool pass gets a credit towards their (YMCA) membership instead,” Reams said. “Because the pool just barely breaks even.”
Ferguson said when he first heard about the prospective purchase, he was against it. He said he didn’t believe the YMCA met the need for a recreation center.
After meeting with city and YMCA officials at last week’s open house, he said he began to “understand the need and see a potential path forward.”
Ferguson said building an entirely new facility and staffing it would require a large investment from taxpayers.
“Today, we have an option to make a strategic investment by purchasing the property our local YMCA currently operates and by having representation on the YMCA board of directors,” Ferguson said.
Emery said regardless of the city’s decision, Marysville is only big enough for one indoor recreation facility.
If the city ends up choosing to pass, the city will likely need to build its own facility in the future. Emery said if that happens, the YMCA would likely be run out of business.
“If that’s what we want to do, that’s okay,” Emery said. “It’s one or the other.”
In other council news:
-Nahvi reminded council that the due date for local income tax returns is April 15. He said extended office hours for the city finance department to handle taxes will be Thursday, April 4 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday April 6 from 9 a.m. to noon; Wednesday, April 10 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, April 14 from 9 a.m. to noon.
-City Engineer Jeremy Hoyt said the closure of South Plum Street from East Ninth and Eleventh Street started today. He said the city is carrying out a project to replace the bridge there, along with over curb improvements in the area. He said the closure will last for “several months.”
-Hoyt also said construction of Bicentennial Park at London Avenue and Ninth Street will begin this week. Emery said more information about the Plum Street and Bicentennial Park projects will be discussed at next week’s work session.
-Public Service Director Mike Andrako said crews will be removing the tanks from the former Clark gas station on East Fifth Street starting the week of April 9. Officials said all remediation work on the site will be done by the end of April.



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