YMCA decision should be reconsidered

Published 10:42 am Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A little over a week after denying the second of three loan installments to the Southside Virginia Family YMCA, Prince Edward County supervisors need to clear up the mixed signals being sent to the organization and the community.

The board had committed to loaning the Y $50,000 per year for three years, starting in 2014.

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The first installment was made as scheduled last year, but the 2015 installment is in limbo after a 4-4 vote last week on whether to pay it. A majority vote is required to release the money.

Some supervisors questioned whether certain criteria the YMCA had to meet to receive the loan have been met, including working with its insurance company on reimbursements for HVAC repairs.

While we commend those supervisors’ diligent handling of taxpayer dollars, let’s not forget that the board’s YMCA committee, made up of county staff and supervisors, reported just last month that the organization had “made enough progress to justify the release of the second installment of the loan agreement …,” according to a staff report from County Administrator Wade Bartlett.

The Y, while far from perfect, deserves clearer communication about what it must do in order for the county to follow through on its commitment. Or if the board plans to renege on the balance of the loan commitment, it needs to say so. That way, the Y can move on in pursuing other financing. 

We believe supervisors should honor their original commitment, give the second installment of the loan, then meet with YMCA leaders this fall and explain very clearly what must occur for the organization to receive the final installment in 2016. The two entities should communicate regularly thereafter to avoid any 11th-hour confusion such as what occurred last week.

This community made a major investment in building a YMCA facility to serve the health and fitness needs of its citizens. To lose it now would be a major step backward.