City may buy Winston Lake YMCA

The Winston Lake YMCA could be looking at big changes if the City of Winston-Salem decides to buy it.

City may buy Winston Lake YMCA
October 20
09:00 2016



The Winston Lake YMCA could be transformed into the Mo Lucas Senior Inclusive Recreation Center as part of a partnership between the City of Winston-Salem and the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina.

The city is considering purchasing the 50,000-square foot Winston Lake Y for $1 and leasing

8,300 square feet back to the YMCA to continue its branch services there for $1.  The city would use its portion, which would include the gym and pool, for recreation services for seniors and special populations. The facility would be renamed after the late Mo Lucas, a former employee  at the branch who volunteered there for decades and mentored several generations of young people.

The YMCA branch started on Depot Street in 1924 to serve African-Americans during segregation. It still continues to serve the black community as East Winston’s YMCA. The regional YMCA has been subsidizing the Winston Lake Y since the branch moved to its current location at 901 Waterworks Road in 1985.

YMCA of Northwest N.C. President Curt Hazelbaker said with drop-ping membership revenue across its branches, the regional YMCA can no longer afford the $300,000-$400,000 shortfall from Winston Lake. He said relatively low membership, the majority of whom are seniors who use insurance to pay, is responsible for the shortfall. He said it’s also one of the larger branches with a lot more space than is needed. He said changes like reduced hours and staff changes have already been put in place. Closing the pool, the most expensive amenity there, was also considered. He said the situation isn’t unique to the Winston Lake Y, with similar measures at four other branches facing shortfalls.

Hazelbaker said partnering with the city was suggested at a meeting on the issue that was held with Winston-Salem Y members. The potential deal with the city would let the YMCA continue to have a location there with a fully renovated Wellness Center including new strength equipment and a group exercise room, along with upgraded locker rooms with a sauna ,steamroom and whirlpool. He also expects members to have access

to the gym and pool for classes. The YMCA plans to invest up to $200,000 to renovate its space.

Hazelbaker said no jobs or programs would be sacrificed by the reduced space. The branch’s popular Black Achievers and Hispanic Achievers programs are held off-site at local schools and wouldn’t be affected.

“We think it’s a great opportunity for the Y, it’s a great opportunity for the city,” said Hazelbaker.

The city’s tentative plans would be moving the Recreation and Parks offices and activities for seniors and special populations into its part of the building, including Senior Games and Special Olympics. Though the YMCA has invested substantially in upkeep of the facility, it will require $1.25 million to $1.5 million in renovations over the next three to five years due to its age.

The Northwest YMCA’s board voted to the support the deal, as has the Winston Lake Y’s board. Barbara Carter, who heads the Winston Lake board, said she felt the deal was a “win-win.”

The potential agreement went before the city finance committee for discussion on Oct. 10. Numerous city council members talked about the importance of the YMCA for East Winston. Derwin Montgomery, who represents the East Ward that contains the Winston Lake Y, supports the plan.

“It offers the opportunity for the asset to remain in the community and for some of the needed investments to take place,” said Montgomery.

The proposal will come back before the finance committee on Nov. 14 at 4:30 p.m.  A letter has been sent out to Winston Lake members informing them about the potential partnership, and a forum on it is planned once more details have been finalized.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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