Questions abound about the proposed YMCA gym, teen and swim center on five acres of town-owned land in Rumsey Park. The Roundup sat down with top officials from the YMCA and members of Friends of Payson Parks and Recreation to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the proposal, which faces voters in a special, mail-in election on Nov. 4. Here’s what they said.
What will the YMCA charge?
Officials have promised a sliding scale based on income. Fees include less than $10 a month for teens. Family rates will range from $38 to $65 based on income. Single adults and seniors would pay half of the family rate ($19-$35 a month based on income) and young adults would pay 25 percent of the family rate. Kids could join without their families for less than $10 per month. The YMCA will charge the same as the town does for the open swim hours in the summer ($2 per person).
What will the facility include?
The YMCA has promised, at a minimum, the facility will include a covered, year-round upgrade of Taylor Pool plus a “therapy pool.” It would also include a 6,500-square-foot gym, locker rooms, a teen center, a computer room for teens and seniors, a recording studio, a rock-climbing wall, a fitness center and meeting and exercise rooms. If the YMCA raises enough money, it could perhaps add a senior center in collaboration with the Payson Senior Center.
Is this a gift of public land?
The town will give the YMCA a 30-year lease for five acres of land in Rumsey Park. The YMCA will pay $10,000 annually and provide open swim hours in the summer for about $2 per person, which will save the town $130,000 annually. The $140,000 in payments and savings is roughly the cost of leasing private land.
Who owns the land?
The land and all the facilities would revert to the town, either when the YMCA goes out of business or at the end of the 30-year lease.
Can the town use the land for something else?
The Forest Service gave the town the land with the provision it be used only for recreation and has already approved the lease of the land to the YMCA.
Will the YMCA affect existing health clubs?
Several of the health clubs in town have lobbied against the deal. YMCA officials say that the facility will cater to families and children, with some facilities for seniors. Health clubs say the deal represents an unfair boost for a competitor. YMCA officials say many health clubs operate close to similar centers in other towns.
Will the school be able to use the facility?
The basic plan calls for the pool to remain 25 yards long, just short of the regulation 25-meter Olympic pool size. Some argue that’s big enough to host a swim team, others disagree. The YMCA has promised to negotiate with the school district about expanding the pool if necessary, depending on the outcome of fund-raising.
Will recreation leagues use the facility?
The YMCA has promised to let the town use the facility at a minimal fee as the schedule allows. The gym won’t be big enough to host two basketball games at once, which the town had originally wanted. YMCA officials said similar facilities frequently have time in the schedule for town programs.
What will the center cost?
The YMCA has set the budget at $5.6 million and the Kemper Marley Foundation in the Valley has already promised $1 million. The YMCA hopes to raise the balance of the money in 1-2 years.
How much will the center cost the town?
The only cost to the town will be the value of the leased land, which the town will still own. The savings to the town totals $140,000 annually. The town council has discussed, but not promised, to use some of that savings to give residents a grant to subsidize memberships in a health club or center of their choice.
What do the opponents say?
The chief objection to the proposal has been the use of public land for a private business. Opponents say it doesn’t matter that the YMCA is a nonprofit organization.
Why put it at the existing pool site?
Renovating the existing Taylor Pool will save a lot of money, compared to starting from scratch — perhaps more than $1 million.
Why try to salvage a 30-year-old pool?
YMCA officials say the existing pool is in better shape than expected and the renovation should extend its life to 30 years. A study on whether the town could build its own new facility previously concluded the existing pool is near the end of its useful life and the ideal solution would be to build a new pool at a different site.
What will happen to all the mature ponderosa pines at the existing site?
YMCA officials say they’ll need to grade the nearby hillside to provide parking and will remove many pinon and juniper trees, but can save nearly all of the big pine trees. The parking lot will be terraced to avoid cutting down the big ponderosas.
Why can’t the YMCA use private land?
YMCA officials say they can’t afford to build the facility without the partnership with the town.
Why can’t the town build its own facility?
A study commissioned by the Friends of Payson Parks and Recreation concluded a town facility with a new, Olympic-sized pool and 10,000-square-foot gym would cost $10-$12 million and the town council has said Payson could not afford such a facility for the foreseeable future.
Is the use of public land unusual?
Most of the new YMCA’s built throughout the country in the past several years have involved similar public/private partnerships.
If voters reject this plan, what happens next?
The YMCA says it will abandon efforts to build in Payson, since several other communities are actively pursuing a partnership.