The St. Mary’s YMCA Exploratory Committee held its sixth and final meeting on Wednesday, July 22, where they approved the scope of work for a feasibility study to determine the best location for a community center in the county, as well as their final report, to be presented to commissioners in the near future. Due to social-distancing guidelines in place due to COVID-19, the meeting was conducted virtually and the public was encouraged to submit comments ahead of time.
Three community members submitted video comments, expressing support for the quick construction of a YMCA in Lexington Park, the area the committee decided would most benefit from YMCA.
Joanna Bartow of Leonardtown, said in her video she supports the center because it would become a meeting place where the community can come together.
“We’re living through a pandemic that has taken away so many places where we come together to have fun, learn and get things done, so we’ve all experienced how limited we are when we don’t have a physical place to come together and build community,” she said. “Imagine if the county commissioners didn’t have their own meeting place.”
Marcia Greenberg of the YMCA Steering Committee, a community group dedicated to pushing forward the YMCA project, serenaded the exploratory committee in her video, with a reimagined version of a song from Mary Poppins. In her own rendition of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” she changes the words to “Let’s go build a Y.”
After considering submitted public comments, the exploratory committee members voted to approve the scope of work for the feasibility study which will determine which of the three chosen locations will be best suited for a community center, as well as their final report to commissioners.
In past meetings, it was decided a site at Nicolet Park, a property near the Great Mills Swimming Pool and a Shangri-La Drive site near the Lexington Park library would be considered as prospective locations.
Bennet Wilson, committee chair, thanked the committee for their hard work, as well as county staff and the community for the help and feedback which was provided to them throughout the process.
“We’re all proud to be a part of it,” she said.
John Parlett, another committee member, thanked county commissioners for the leadership they exhibited and the committee for their dedication of “seeing this through until the end.”
“We identified three great sites,” he said. “I think everyone in St. Mary’s County recognizes this is something we need.”
At last week’s commissioners meeting, Wilson presented the final report to commissioners and listed five recommendations being made by the committee including; enter into a memorandum of understanding with the YMCA of the Chesapeake; move forward with breaking ground in 2022 due to the immediate need; allow Lexington Park to host the first YMCA facility in the county; consider all three suggested sites; and help ensure strategic reinvestment in the area.
She told commissioners they would not need to ask for more money after the center is built as the umbrella corporation will be responsible for financial health.
“We’ve had $75,000 set aside for studies … this study is costing $35,000,” Commissioner Eric Colvin (R) said, and suggested the county use those funds to also conduct a fundraising study to help determine the most efficient way to raise money for the construction of the facility.
“The community center is something that our county as it grows is definitely going to be needing” Commissioner John O’Connor (R) said, before commissioners agreed to allow the YMCA of the Chesapeake to perform a feasibility and a fundraising study.