Economic and Tourism Development Committee meets to discuss upcoming YMCA facility

Published 8:36 am Wednesday, March 15, 2023

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Facility expected to open in 2025; will offer indoor pool, exercise studio, and more


COLUMBUS-On Tuesday, March 14, at the Womack Building, the Polk County Economic and Tourism Development Commission held a meeting to discuss updates to the upcoming YMCA facility.

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The facility, tentatively called the Polk County YMCA with the hope of eventually being named after a donor, will be a branch of the Greater Spartanburg YMCA, which began service in 1869. The goal of the Greater Spartanburg YMCA is “to strengthen communities and their citizens, by providing programs on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.”


In June 2021, Polk County appointed 10 individuals to serve on the Polk County YMCA Community Recreation Development Committee. The subcommittee identified a 6.58-acre site at the intersection of Highways 74 and 108 in Columbus for, providing ease of access for residents of all of Polk County and Landrum. The land was donated by John Montgomery and Clary Hood.


The buzz about the YMCA has been growing for quite some time. According to the YMCA Development Committee’s research, of 3,084 surveyed, 80% are likely to join the YMCA, with 62% willing to drive up to 20 minutes to attend. The survey showed that 34% are interested in the children’s summer camp, and 21% are interested in after-school programs.


Among citizens’ interests, the main draw seems to be the planned six-lane heated indoor pool. It will be the county’s largest indoor pool.


The facility will also have an indoor track with a multi-sport gymnasium, a group exercise studio, and a wellness center with state-of-the-art cardio and strength training equipment. Aside from exercise opportunities, members will also have access to a community room for meetings and multipurpose special events and a “child watch space” to engage children while parents participate in YMCA projects. 

Plans include a six-lane pool, multi-sport gymnasium, indoor walking track and a group exercise studio equipped for activities like yoga and Zumba. (Image courtesy of Polk County government)

“It’s not about facilities, it’s about programs. It’s about impacting people’s lives,” said Rick Callebs, CEO of the YMCA of the greater Spartanburg area. What I’m most proud of is that we bring people together.”


Community involvement is also a big part of the plans for the facility. The Polk County government will also offer expanded recreation services through the YMCA. Polk County Schools already have summer camp programs at local school sites through the organization, and St. Luke’s Hospital will conduct a cancer survivor program, as well as offer employee memberships. 


Callebs added, “collaboration is the key to any YMCA.”


At 32%, the senior population of Polk County is a growing segment, with the average age in the county being 54. The YMCA wants to offer programs for “health and emotional wellness for seniors,” as well as utilizing citizens as advisors.  


“This is going to be a community center for this community,” said Michael Baughman, Chairman of the Polk County YMCA Development Committee for the project. “There’s a big mentorship need here. There are a lot of folks here that have time and experience and they have a lot to give back.” 


Membership costs to use the facility are as of yet undetermined. Facilities in larger cities tend to have more costly memberships, but Callebs says that sites in smaller communities tend to have more importance. It’s currently projected an adult membership will be roughly $45-50 monthly, with a sliding scale for those with lower income.


The county will own the building and the land, but the YMCA is helping raise funds for the construction, which is expected to begin in 2024 or 2025. The 30,000-square-foot facility is projected to open in 2025.