DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon, who represents the county’s Super District 6, said this week that she and Commissioner Jeff Rader, who represents District 2, remain against a proposal for the county to spend greenspace bond money to renovate the South DeKalb YMCA, 2565 Snapfinger Road, Decatur.
DeKalb Commissioner Larry Johnson has been pushing for the proposal, which he says would bring great health benefits to community residents. Johnson has set up tours and invited community residents to visit the property on Aug. 3, 4 p.m.; Aug. 9 and 16 at 8:30, 9:30 and 10 a.m.
The proposal is expected to come before the Board of Commissioners on Aug. 12. A few weeks ago, the board members could not reach an agreement over whether to fund the project using taxpayer money. Here’s what Gannon had to say in a news release this week about why she is against the proposal:
Summary of Proposed South DeKalb YMCA Master Agreement
This agreement is exclusively negotiated with the YMCA, and the like has not been offered to any other organization or governmental partner. The Y brings no money to the table for improving the property. The YMCA will use public money to operate a recreation facility that requires membership and fees to use.
The private South DeKalb YMCA at 2565 Snapfinger Road is less than three miles from DeKalb’s Browns Mill Recreation and Aquatics Center and less than 3 miles from Exchange Park Recreation Center, together the object of $16.1 million in recent and ongoing Parks Bond developmental investment (Exchange-$7.2 million, Browns Mill-$8.9 million) . The agreement will sink a grand total of over $21 million of Bond improvements within a 3 mile radius.
DeKalb County will purchase the existing YMCA for $5 million, using $1 million of District 3 and 7 Parks Bond Land Acquisition Funding and $4 million in County Wide Acquisition Funding. The agreement diverts land acquisition funding to development, contrary to the Bond Referendum. The property is appraised at $2.5 million for tax purposes, with the land appraised at $400,000.
After the purchase, the County will transfer the property to the Development Authority of DeKalb County (DADC), who will lease the property back to the YMCA for $1 per year for 50 years. At the end of the lease, the property reverts to DeKalb County.
The YMCA will renovate the building to its own plan, and continue to operate the facility as a YMCA, charging a fee schedule of its own choosing, except that special benefits exclusively for residents of three surrounding zip codes shall be provided, including waiver of initiation fees for ten years, registration preference, special programing and financial assistance. Typically the annual membership fees are $648 per individuals and $1,100 for a family.
The Parks Bond Advisory Committee and the Initiative for a Green DeKalb Advisory Council have written the Interim CEO and Board of Commissioners stating that in their opinion the YMCA purchase does not meet the intent of the 2001, 2006 DeKalb bond issues, nor the 2010 Parks Master Plan.
The YMCA must maintain and repair the facility, and the County may improve the building, subject to YMCA approval. DeKalb will continue to operate Browns Mill and Exchange at public expense.
The County may sponsor all of four free events per year at the South DeKalb Y, and DADC may sponsor up to 2 events per year, subordinate to YMCA programming, and with 30 days’ notice.