By Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
PORT ORANGE -- For a place designed to help people get fit, the YMCA is about to get fatter.
With membership up, staff at the Port Orange YMCA found the facility originally designed to accommodate 4,000 people must grow with the membership as delays for equipment and difficulty finding parking have become common.
"There is upwards of 8,500 members in this facility," City Manager Ken Parker said. "If you try to go over there and work out, it's now becoming increasingly more difficult."
Now, city leaders are interested in assisting YMCA staff with a $2 million expansion of the existing building, owned by the city and leased to the YMCA since it was built in 1990, which would add about 6,000 square feet. City Council members recently directed the city manager to work with the YMCA on a proposal related to design, financing and lease payments.
The project mostly involves upgrades and expansions to fitness areas and also calls for the addition of 24 new parking spaces.
Teresa Rogers, executive director of Volusia/Flagler Family YMCA, which has six branches, said in addition to expanding the fitness areas, the project calls for the refurbishment of 20,000 square feet that would work to accommodate the growth in medical-based programs, such as stroke rehabilitation and classes for people with diabetes.
"We are running out of space, which is a great problem to have," she said. "But nonetheless, we need some updating."
Outside of regular fitness, Ms. Rogers said she would eventually like to see another swimming pool built on the property, but acknowledged it would prove expensive.
This would not be the first time the Port Orange YMCA has been expanded. Mr. Parker said it's been expanded twice before, adding a rehabilitation facility in 1998 and a day care center in 2001.
The city would be responsible for fronting the costs of the expansion, but the YMCA would repay the costs through increased rent payments to the city occurring over several years. Mr. Parker said each time the YMCA was expanded, rent payments were adjusted to cover additional square footage.
As city leaders await the formal proposal, they expressed some concerns. Vice Mayor Don Burnette and Councilman Drew Bastian both said they wanted to see clear plans for the expanded parking, while Councilman Bob Ford was worried about whether the project would be financially feasible for both the city and the YMCA.
Council members, however, supported the expansion in concept, believing it would prove to be a benefit for the community.
"It's a great facility," Mr. Burnette said. "Me and my family enjoy it."