Ymca Needed To Help Our Youth Succeed

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As crucial as the proposed YMCA is to the welfare of our youth, Mayor Bob Edwards continues to publicly oppose the partnership between the town and the organization.

His resistance to the bringing the YMCA to the Rim Country is tough to understand, in light of Payson's lack of facilities and programs for our greatest asset -- our young people.

Payson's youth desperately need the resources a YMCA would bring to Payson, including aquatic programs, arts and humanities offerings, outdoor education, job training, drug abuse prevention, educational classes, health and fitness action plans, leadership programs and team sports leagues.

In a Nov. 1 "Mayor's Update," he questioned why there isn't a town run facility "that would answer the actual need and not stomp on businesses."

For almost 20 years, the people of Payson worked diligently to find ways to build a town recreation center.

Unfortunately, the resources were never uncovered to build the center and its priority seemed to have fallen by the wayside until recently, when the Friends of Parks and Recreation attracted the YMCA to Payson.

The mayor has also gone on record as favoring small government that ultimately leaves only tiny footprints as it governs our citizens.

Yet, he opposes the YMCA, a non-profit organization, in favor of funding more and bigger government in the form of a larger parks and recreation department that would be needed to operate a recreation center.

His stance seems contradictory.

The mayor says he also opposes leasing town land near Rumsey Park to the nonprofit YMCA, yet he recently voted to lease town land at the Payson Event Center to the forprofit Hospitality Support Group.

Again that seems contradictory.

The mayor has also gone on record as urging Gila County government to form private-public partnerships to meet their growing needs, including new jail facilities.

But at the same time he's asking the county to enter into private, public partnerships, he's against the town forming the same relationships with the YMCA.

The mayor also questions whether a YMCA could succeed in Payson.

"If it is built and fails, the town would have a big white elephant that we would need to handle at probably a large cost," he wrote in his Mayor's Update.

But, a bit of Internet research proves that YMCA failures are rare.

Also, the proposed Payson facility would not be a lone entity left to fend for itself, but rather linked with the much larger and highly successful Valley of the Sun YMCAs YMCA officials assure us that if a Payson facility ran into financial problems, it could seek relief from the larger Valley-based organization.

It would behoove those who oppose the YMCA, including Councilor Mike Vogel and Edwards, to learn from an example set by our neighbors in the tiny mountain hamlets of Springerville and Eagar.

In 1992, the townspeople had the vision and the courage to build the only high school domed stadium in the United States. Last year, the townspeople went even further by funding the installation of a new artificial playing surface inside the facility.

Today, those in Springerville and Eagar brag that the dome "stands as a monument to the profound commitment this community has made to nurturing its youth."

Should Payson do any less for its youth?

In teaching and coaching, we often hear "what's best for the kids," meaning our decisions and actions should reflect what's most beneficial for our youth.

That includes building character, accountability and self-reliance in our young people by providing them with the best opportunities available. It is a responsibility we shoulder much the same way our parents and grandparents did for us.

It's obvious that bringing the much-needed YMCA facility and programs to Payson, tax-free, is in the best interest of our young people.

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