Polk needs leader to bring YMCAPublished 11:11pm Sunday, September 8, 2013
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Greater Spartanburg YMCA CEO Rick Callebs said if the Polk County or Landrum area funds it, the YMCA would operate it.
Making the vision of a YMCA in Polk County or Landrum a reality, Callebs said, would require a community member organizing and fundraising for the construction of a facility.
“Somebody has to step up and say ‘I’ll lead this campaign,’” said Callebs. “It’s a joint effort.”
Callebs said about six months ago Tryon Estates contacted the YMCA saying it was willing to donate land. Since, Callebs said the YMCA has met with several organizations and conducted a feasibility study based on population and demographics. The study indicated that within a 20-minute radius of Tryon Estates in Columbus, there could be 1,560 members interested in joining a YMCA. Callebs also said the YMCA has met with other areas, including the City of Landrum about building a new facility.
Tryon Town Council briefly discussed interest during its Aug. 20 meeting saying that Harmon Field could again be an option. Efforts to locate a YMCA at Harmon Field failed in 2008.
Callebs said a rough estimate for a small facility in Polk County, that would include an indoor pool, fitness center and children’s game room, would cost between $4-$5 million. Callebs mentioned the YMCA would like to have $1 million reserved as scholarships to families who cannot afford a membership.
“There’s a lot of variables,” Callebs said. “We’ve got to make it affordable.”
At one time there was a $500,000 anonymous donation for a YMCA to locate at Harmon Field, but Polk County Community Foundation (PCCF) Executive Director Elizabeth Nager recently said the funding is no longer available.
The Greater Spartanburg YMCA has two facilities; one in Spartanburg and another in Duncan, S.C. with each having its own board of directors and budget. Callebs said a facility in Polk County would operate the same way.
The new Thomas E. Hannah facility in Spartanburg, referred to as “The Tom,” is an 80,000 square-foot building with 15,000 square feet used by Spartanburg Regional Rehabilitation Services.
Callebs estimated that a Polk/Landrum area facility would need more like 20-25,000 square feet.
“We’ve got to find the right leadership up there to make it happen,” said Callebs, who lives in Columbus. “We think we can operate it. I’d love to see that happen. I live there and plan to retire there.”
On the Tryon Daily Bulletin’s facebook page responses were mixed as to whether or not citizens here would support a YMCA facility.
Bonnie Ann Rapossa Rossi said, “I would every day! It would be awesome!”
Meanwhile, Laura E. Cintrón didn’t agree with Rossi’s enthusiasm.
“Won’t a YMCA take away from what we already have in Polk County,” Cintrón asked. “Why are we not supporting the local small business owners and always bringing in duplicate of what the towns already have… Instead of bringing in new, let’s figure out a way to build up what we have.”
Polk County had a YMCA facility called Camp Skyuka at the top of White Oak Mountain that opened in 1951 and ran until the 1980s as a camp for children. The camp closed in the 1980s for financial reasons and a development company sold the main lodge, cabins and lots to private owners.