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Published 4:37 pm Friday, November 12, 2021

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Polk approves $15,500 for consultant for YMCA facility

COLUMBUS—The Polk County Board of Commissioners decided to spend $15,550 for a consultant to help develop a YMCA facility in the county. 

Commissioners met recently and heard from the YMCA development board chair Michael Baughman, who detailed what the board has done since it was established. 

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Baughman said the committee, which has 11 members, has met several times over the last couple of months and held a public meeting recently. 

The purpose of the committee, Baughman said, is whether or not the community can build and sustain a facility with an indoor swimming pool. 

He mentioned a community survey conducted by the county recreation department in 2019, which was continued in 2021, which concluded that 70 percent of survey takers want an indoor swimming pool. 

Baughman said there are a lot of questions the committee is considering, including if a community of Polk’s size can sustain a YMCA; where would it go; how much is it going to cost; will taxes go up; what will the facility look like; how long will it take; what happens if it does not make it; financing; location and fundraising. Baughman said in the survey, 65 percent of people said they would support a tax increase for a facility. 

The plan is if a YMCA facility is built another board will be appointed to operate the facility. 

“We’re all volunteers,” Baughman said. “None of us are experts. Just to get the committee together is work.” 

One of the committee members is Sharon Decker, who knows of a consultant who has done similar work in other areas.

Baughman said he reached out to other consulting firms, who did not return his request and he was told they could not do the work for nearly the cost as proposed. 

Commissioners approved hiring LaTisha Steele, with Decker and Steele to do the work for $15,500.  

Baughman said Steele has agreed to consult on how to raise money, what grants are available and the facility development plan. 

Baughman told commissioners he would get Steele in to meet commissioners soon. 

Polk County has contracted with the YMCA of Greater Spartanburg to run its recreational programs, including sports, the pool and camps. The YMCA took over programs last summer. The plan for the YMCA and the county to partner to build a facility in the county with an indoor pool if it is deemed sustainable.