Ymca, Town Partnership Is A Win-Win For Everyone

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Editor:

It is very frustrating to see a vocal minority repeatedly complain about the town's proposed partnership with the YMCA based on false information.

I have been on the board of the Friends of Payson Parks and Recreation for the past five years, serving as president and now secretary. One of the group's founding objectives was to find a way to build a community center with indoor recreational facilities in Payson. It quickly became obvious the Town of Payson couldn't afford to build such a facility, let alone run it without being a major economic burden to the community. Following the example set by a number of other small communities, we contacted the Valley of the Sun YMCA to consider a partnership in a community center for Payson. Town staff at that time was very supportive of the proposed partnership.

Personnel on the town staff has changed since we initiated the proposed partnership, but the need for more indoor recreational facilities has not. Nor has the economics of this community.

Opponents insist the town plans to give away park land. By law, that land is required to be used for recreational purposes and that is exactly what the partnership with the YMCA will do. Opponents argue the YMCA should purchase other land in town and fish or cut bait on its own without any support or contribution from the town. But this community cannot afford to sustain an independent YMCA.

A long-term lease of town land saves initial construction costs; remodeling Taylor Pool saves a tremendous amount of additional costs. The community is not large enough to support competing aquatic facilities. So building another pool would be a financial drain on the community. In simple terms, without the town's contributions to the proposed partnership -- the land lease and the opportunity to remodel Taylor Pool instead of building a new pool -- an independent YMCA would be too expensive for the majority of this community's residents.

We are not a wealthy community. We need collaborations like this proposed partnership to enhance recreational opportunities here. We can't afford it without such a partnership.

Opponents also suggest the Friends of Payson Parks of Recreation should give the money it plans to raise to the town and let it build and run a community center. First and foremost, our financial supporters are not interested in giving money to the Friends of Payson Parks and Recreation nor the Town of Payson, which have no experience building or running a community center. They will give to the YMCA, which has a longtime national reputation and proven success in communities just like ours. They will want to know the money will be used to build a successful facility and not be a financial burden to the community.

This partnership is a win-win for Payson. I know many of you support the project because you've told me so yourselves. It's time to speak up and not let this opportunity slip away. Don't let a vocal minority defeat it with an ill-informed negative campaign. I urge the silent majority to speak out, inform the uninformed, do the right thing for Payson, and let the partnership move forward. Without this land lease and opportunity to remodel the existing pool, Payson can't afford a YMCA.

Sharon Strople

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