Ymca Is A Community Center Alternative

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A collaboration with the YMCA could provide a new community center a lot faster and cheaper than going it alone, the Payson Town Council was told at its regular meeting Thursday night.

Sharon Strople, president of Friends of Payson Parks and Recreation, told the council that the YMCA option offers a significant advantage.

"When you bring the YMCA into a collaborative effort like this, their non-profit status can generate volunteers and contributions for a substantial portion of the costs," Strople said.

A previous study conducted for the town in August 2003 by Ballard, King and Associates, estimated a community center could cost the town more than $11 million and led to the project being tabled. But a community center built in collaboration with the YMCA could require only a minimal investment by the town.

"It's an alternative way to make a similar facility happen that is hopefully not a financial burden to the town," Strople said. "I would think a lot of volunteers, a lot of charitable donations, and grant monies will be available. The town might make a contribution, but it's not something the town is going to build and pay for."

Strople based her presentation on the preliminary results of a survey conducted by the Winfield Group, an Atlanta-based company that has conducted nearly 700 such studies for the YMCA. About 600 northern Gila County residents were queried by telephone over a two-week period to determine potential membership and program preferences.

The survey asked participants how much they would pay in membership fees.

"The bottom line is about 60 percent of those willing to join would be at the lowest rate," Strople said. "That's where we get the determination that we have a very price-sensitive area and that any facility would probably have to be built without any debt service."

The council will not be asked to make a decision on the issue until the complete report is available early next year.

"We'll have the final report the third week in January and will make a Power Point presentation of that report to the Town Council in February," Strople said.

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