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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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YMCA interested in operating Embrey Mill facility

The Rappahannock Area YMCA wants to operate the planned fitness and aquatics facility in Stafford County’s Embrey Mill community.

Stafford is working on plans for a 60,000-square-foot indoor recreation facility in the large Embrey Mill development off Courthouse Road and near the Interstate 95 interchange. Stafford will build the complex, but will select a private operator to run it.

The county plans to issue a request for proposals late this year from private operators interested in running the complex. The Rappahannock Area YMCA plans to submit a proposal to operate the facility, said CEO Barney Reiley.

Reiley said the YMCA board has long wanted to open a branch in North Stafford. He called it a “top priority” and “a key part of our strategic plan.”

It’s unclear if other operators will also submit proposals. County officials say the operator won’t be selected until mid-2014.

The indoor facility is part of an $18.7 million park that Stafford is planning at Embrey Mill that will also include 12 rectangular fields. Construction is expected to start this spring and be complete by fall 2014. The county plans to accept construction bids this spring.

The park will be paid for with a combination of bond proceeds, capital projects reserves and contributions from Embrey Mill developers Newland Real Estate Group and North America Sekisui House.

Stafford has based the design of the $6.9 million indoor facility in part from plans that were once in place for a somewhat larger YMCA near Mountain View High School, said Deputy County Administrator Keith Dayton.

Amenities will include a 50-meter by 25-yard indoor pool, along with a therapeutic pool, exercise rooms, basketball gymnasium and classrooms. Swim meets of all levels could be held in the pool, which will be one of seven of its type in the state.

County officials met with YMCA management this past fall to discuss the project. Dayton said in an email that “the YMCA has considerable experience operating similar facilities around the area,” and that the county “would welcome a proposal from them to operate this facility, along with other interested parties.”

Dayton said the county will be expecting special consideration for Stafford residents, private swim teams and schools to use the facility.

Dayton said the operator of the complex will likely lease the facility from the county, perhaps for a nominal cost, and split surplus operating revenues with the county.

The Rappahannock Area YMCA also operates branches in Falmouth and Spotsylvania and King George counties. A YMCA branch in the Ladysmith area of Caroline County is under construction and is expected to open late this spring.