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Ladysmith Y facility starting to shape up

When the area’s newest YMCA opens in late fall, it will have something that Caroline County residents have never had before: a public swimming pool—two, in fact.

With public swimming pools come swimming classes, a place for the high school swim team to practice and compete, and a host of other benefits.

These and additional amenities—already enjoyed in Stafford, Spotsylvania and King George counties—convinced Supervisor Wayne Acors to push his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors to seriously consider the project.

The financing of the 41,000-square-foot facility has caused some tension among the supervisors, but regardless, it’s expected to open its doors in the next few months.

Acors and Barney Reiley, the CEO of the Rappahannock Area YMCA, noted that the friction has hurt fundraising efforts.

“Whenever you have some type of controversy around a project or constantly negative talking and writing and blogging . . . every little issue becomes a major thing,” Acors said in an interview.

Reiley said that the Y has secured about 350 membership units (either an individual or family membership), and hopes to reach 1,000 units.

He said he expects that once the Y is open and operating and people see what the facility is like, fundraising and membership numbers will climb. The Y offers financial assistance that makes its rates affordable for people of all income levels.

A RANGE OF ACTIVITIES

With the new YMCA, Caroline residents will have access to a number of new programs and activities.

There are the two pools. One is a competition pool, kept at 83 degrees. The high school will be able to form a swim team that can use it next year. It’s 25 yards wide by 25 meters long.

The second pool is significantly smaller and warmer (88 degrees). It will have a “zero depth entry,” making it wheelchair-friendly and more accessible for the elderly. It will be best utilized for rehabilitation programs.

It’s the first facility in the area to be built with a therapeutic pool from the start, Reiley said.

The fitness area will have three components:

A large selection of cardiovascular machines, weight and circuit-training equipment, and free weights;

Studios for classes in Zumba, aerobics, step, spinning, etc.;

And a gym with two basketball courts.

Nursery and day care programs will be part of the youth wing.

ACORS’ QUEST FOR A YMCA

Reiley said that for years, he’s been fielding calls from all over the region about when certain localities, including Caroline, would get a YMCA of their own.

Acors said for years he has been hearing from Caroline residents about services and activities the county doesn’t offer.

Those, and two things he believed needed to be addressed—the county’s high obesity and teen pregnancy rates—sent him looking for a solution.

“The Y will certainly help along those lines,” said Acors, pointing to the positive after-school activities offered by the Y.

He also knew there was a need for physical rehabilitation facilities for the county’s elderly population.

But one of the biggest draws for Acors was the financial assistance program the Y has.

If someone can’t pay the full price of a membership, the Y works with the person to set a fee the person can afford. No one is turned away. The costs are made up through contributions from members and other fundraising.

Acors did research by visiting other YMCA branches in the region. At the Ron Rosner branch in Spotsylvania, he visited one morning and saw a group of senior citizens there for fellowship and lunch.

At the King George branch, he saw a group of young people playing games.

At the Massad branch in Stafford, he admired the water park.

A water park isn’t in the plans right now, but he said he hopes one day the county will be able to make one part of the Caroline YMCA.

Acors sees the YMCA as a place that will bring residents of the county together.

“This is a means for people to come together and get to know each other,” he said.

He said he knows neighborhoods such as Lake Land’Or, Lake Caroline and Ladysmith Village have amenities like pools and gyms, but other parts of the county don’t have access to those things.

“There’s so much it has to offer all of us in Caroline County,” Acors said.

The new facility is in the Ladysmith Village subdivision and will be a vast improvement over the storefront the Y is operating from next to the Food Lion in Ladysmith.

“We are a growing community, a growing county, we just have nothing for the people to do,” Acors said.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413

rsidersky@freelancestar.com

 

PROJECT’S BACKGROUND

In June 2011, Caroline supervisors voted 4–1 to borrow $5 million to finance the project. Supervisor Jeff Sili voted against the loan, saying he worried about how the county would repay it.

The board makeup is different now—Western Caroline District Supervisor Jeff Black and Port Royal’s Calvin Taylor have been elected since then.

Supervisor Wayne Acors promised no taxpayer money would be used to pay for the Y, but the county had to pay $60,000 to help cover an interest payment due on Aug. 1.

He’s still confident that the money will be raised privately and through development proffers, and that taxpayer money won’t be tapped.

At the Sept. 10 Board of Supervisors meeting, Barney Reiley, the CEO of the Rappahannock Area YMCA, answered questions from the supervisors about the project. For more than an hour, supervisors peppered Reiley with questions about construction, fundraising and the other YMCA branches in the area and how they are financed.

 

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