City’s decision to give YMCA $50,000 stirs ongoing debate over plans to build pool

YMCA 2

Whether or not the Hogan Family YMCA will follow through with its promise to build an Olympic size swimming pool in Madison has been a hotly debated topic in Madison for over a year.

Several residents voiced their concerned again at Monday’s Madison City Council meeting prior to the council’s decision to give the YMCA $50,000.

The issue over the pool first took shape on May 26, 2009 when Heart of the Valley YMCA CEO and President Scott Mounts told Madison city council members that plans to build an outdoor 50-meter pool would be pulled from the initial construction of the new Y facility  in 2010 and included in a “Phase 2” project. He said phase two would begin when the Hogan Family YMCA achieved a membership of 2,500.

According to market surveys the Y had at the time, it would take 24 to 36 months to reach that point. Instead, it reached it in only a few weeks. A year and half after the Y opened, residents are now asking ‘what happened to the pool?’

“Don’t fund the YMCA until you see what the Phase 2 plan includes,” urged Jerry Robinson, the president of the Madison Swim Association.

Laurie Messer also addressed council concerning the pool that the YMCA supposedly promised the city. She explained that there simply is not enough room in the city for two high school swim teams to flourish.

“Each team can only have 20 members,” Messer explained.

This potentially puts the Madison high schools at a disadvantage when it comes to competing with other local schools.

Another member of the Madison Swimming Association that the lack of a 50-meter pool is deterring potential residents from moving to Madison.

The discussion continued, with other residents imploring Madison to keep the $50,000 and invest in building their own pool elsewhere on city property.

“The construction of the pool was not promised four years ago,” said  city councilman Tim Holcombe.

Although city council members have been very specific in the past that the Y’s planned construction of the pool is a must for Madison, Holcombe went on to explain that the pool was only mentioned and appeared in presentations. He said the YMCA was not contractually obligated to build the pool. They were only required to build the overall facility.

The Hogan Family YMCA’s new director Drew Freeman addressed the pool’s construction in an interview with Madison Weekly News a few weeks ago. He said his biggest priority on expanding the Madison facility is the phase 2 construction.

“The opportunity to build something of this magnitude is great. We have started the capitol fund raising projects and will look to raising the $2.5-million funds necessary to complete the dream pool,” he said.

Another issue that more than one resident commented on was the fact that YMCA offers a free water safety class to Madison city schools 3rd graders. The issue of contention was that only children enrolled in Madison City Schools can participate.

“Open the program up to all 3rd grade aged children in Madison city,” exclaimed one resident.