No YMCA in Cassville now, maybe someday

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Officials from the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) met with a group of Cassville citizens on Monday and reported that the Association did not consider it feasible to build a physical facility in Cassville at present.

The meeting provided an opportunity for YMCA officials to discuss the results of a feasibility study they had conducted that looked at existing facilities in Cassville, including the gymnastics center, Family Life Center, Cassville Aquatic Center, a proposed expansion of facilities at St. John's Hospital-Cassville, the current population and anticipated growth.

"They didn't say no forever, they just don't think it's feasible at this time, and they don't want to go in and build a facility that might fail," said Dianne Shiveley, who has been involved in the attempt to attract a YMCA facility. "Of course, we are very disappointed, though."

"We think that as the community grows, and the population base becomes larger, there is an opportunity for a facility there," said Brad Toft, executive director of the Springfield YMCA, who participated in the feasibility study.

Toft said the YMCA did not have a particular target population in mind.

"It depends on what is already in place in the community," Toft said. "Since we've established an agreement with the city to operate their recreation program for them, our focus will be to develop new programs for them and get a feel for how the community responds."

A team of three YMCA executive directors conducted interviews with 26 community leaders in September to identify the desire for and feasibility of building a YMCA facility in Cassville. The YMCA personnel conducting the study included: Toft; Derrick Dohmen, chief executive officer of the Callaway County YMCA; and Casey Holck, executive director of the Pat Jones YMCA.

Among the observations presented by the team in its final report were:

• The community is a vibrant, growing community ready to move forward.

• Most people interviewed were positive about the possibility of a YMCA in their community.

• With the availability of other providers/facilities, the community and surrounding area does not have the population base to support a full YMCA facility.

• The majority of those interviewed said $300,000 could be raised in the community, with a few reservations.

• The main need identified was for an indoor swimming pool.

• Programs that a YMCA could provide without significant duplication of services are school-age child care, senior programs, strength training, martial arts, teen activities and other non-physical activities.

Those interviewed were asked if they felt the community needed a YMCA. Among the responses, 20 agreed that the community needed a YMCA, two felt it did not, five said maybe and one had no comment. Asked if they would be willing to support a YMCA with their time and money, 21 of those interviewed said they would and only one said "no."

The idea to approach the YMCA regarding a facility in Cassville was originally dis-cussed by Susie Jacobs and Shiveley. Toft suggested that they contact other Cassville community members to deter-mine if there was interest in such a facility. Interest was then gauged during private interviews with these community members.

Jacobs and Shiveley were joined by Becky Ryder, Lonnie McCullough and Mindi Gates in pursuing the issue.

The nearest YMCA facility is located in the old National Guard Armory at 205 Euclid in Monett.

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