By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
HOLLY HILL -- It's becoming a recurring story. The Volusia/Flagler Family YMCA decides to close up shop in Holly Hill, and the city commission courts it into staying a little longer. This time with up to $45,000.
At its last regular meeting, Dec. 11, the city commission authorized Jim McCroskey, city manager, to negotiate with the YMCA to keep its facility at the Holly Hill Community Resource Center, 1046 Daytona Ave., open for another year. The YMCA sent the city a letter in August saying it needed more assistance, or it was going to close in March.
At press time, Mr. McCroskey hadn't yet talked to Teresa Rogers, president/CEO of the YMCA. However, she said the Y was aware of the offer.
"I asked my board if I get an offer of $45,000, do I say yes or no," Ms. Rogers said in an interview after the meeting. "They voted to say yes. We would stay for the next 12 months."
But a deal struck between Mr. McCroskey and Ms. Rogers would have to go through the YMCA's board of directors and the Holly Hill City Commission for approval. That could put the brakes on it.
Commissioner Donnie Moore, who was on the losing side of the 3-2 vote approving the offer, said, "The devil is in the details."
"I've been exploring other options," he said in an interview after the meeting. "I can't tell you what they are, but there are other options. I just want to get it right, and I don't think we're getting it right with the Y."
Ms. Rogers said the Holly Hill facility is one of six the Volusia/Flagler Family YMCA operates, in addition to Camp Winona near DeLeon Springs. She said the Holly Hill facility costs about $250,000 a year.
"I have 284 members at the Holly Hill Y," she said.
Also, the facility has after-school and summer programs for children and youths.
The YMCA has operated the Holly Hill facility for 2-1/2 years. Ms. Rogers said that's far short of what the YMCA expected. Based on the Y's usual market experience, it expected the facility to draw 500 to 700 members. Another problem it's encountered in Holly Hill is a disproportionate number of discounted memberships.
"Here's the real issue -- of that nearly 300 members, more than 80 percent are on financial assistance," Ms. Rogers said.
Ms. Rogers said the Y lost about $75,000 its first year in Holly Hill. The second year about $50,000. It's tracking to loose about $35,000 this year.
The maximum Volusia/Flagler Family YMCA membership cost is $55 a month, along with a $25 joining fee. That's for a family earning more than $40,000 a year. A child up to age 17 from a home earning less than $29,999 a year pays $10 a month, and there's no joining fee, whereas if the child is from a home earning more than $40,000, he or she would pay $20 a month. A family earning less than $29,999 a year pays $28 a month, along with the $25 joining fee. Ms Rogers said the Y will not turn away anyone over money.
Holly Hill doesn't have a leisure services program, and the YMCA is essentially filling that role. The Y was renting the Holly Hill Community Resource Center from the city for $1,000 a month, but received no funding. It had a 10-year lease with the city that allowed either party to terminate with 90 days notice. On June 1, the YMCA sent a lease termination letter to the city. About a week later, the YMCA agreed to stay if the city reduced the rent to $500 a month, and started paying utilities, such as electricity and water.
At the 11th hour, the city agreed to the deal.
"Basically they paid us $500 a month and we paid all the utilities and maintenance," Mr. McCroskey said. It was basically a wash."