By Paul T. Choate
Jan. 22, 2013. The Watauga YMCA initiative has moved to a new phase this week with a commitment from the Catawba Valley YMCA to put up the funds for a Y Site Analysis to be conducted. The analysis will cost $2,500 and is expected to be completed by mid February.
“I think we will be impressed with the findings and then we move quickly to the community interviews,” said Bob Conklin, Catawba Valley YMCA CEO. “The Board of Directors of the YMCA Catawba Valley is really excited about possibility of a YMCA in Boone.”
If the analysis suggests a Y membership model is viable, then Conklin will immediately begin conducting selected citizens interviews, which is a part of step two of the four-step process for starting a new Y. Selected citizens would be, for example, community leaders such as the mayor, members of the Board of Commissioners, the school superintendent and others.
Since the initiative was introduced back in the fall of 2012, community support for bringing a Y to Watauga has been apparent.
“Out of the 51 survey respondents who attended the first Y meeting back in October, 86 percent favored the Y, while only 14 percent were against the idea, primarily due to an opinion that a publicly constructed and operated recreation facility was the preferred alternative,” said Brian Lowe, executive director of the Hope Pregnancy Resource Center and Watauga YMCA advocate.
On an interesting note, on Tuesday, Jan. 8, we here at High Country Press added a poll to our website asking whether the community was in favor of a YMCA or not and 274 votes later our percentages are the exact same as Lowe’s findings. There have been 237 votes in support of a Watauga Y and 37 votes not in support — or 86 percent to 14 percent.
“Both Scott St. Clair [president of High Country Recreation] and I are very grateful for the generous gesture of support for the High Country YMCA Initiative by the YMCA Catawba Valley Board of Directors in deciding to underwrite the primary site analysis,” Lowe said. “As the word about the possibility of a Y continues to spread, more and more persons are coming forward with ideas and expressions of support. We hope this means that our community is ready to join together to see a first rate, family-oriented, recreational facility become a reality.”
Discussions pertaining to land options are ongoing, including a public/private partnership involving the possibility of a tract of land owned by Watauga County, another one owned by the State of North Carolina, and several privately held tracts of land.
No date for a next community meeting on the issue has been set as of now, but Lowe offered his email address, saying he would add anyone interested in coming to future meetings to his contacts and email them as updates came available.
For more information, email [email protected].