Thursday, April 11, 2002

Scarborough YMCA moves forward

Published in the Current

Cumberland County YMCA officials have agreed that plans for a YMCA in Scarborough should move ahead, though a location and the services to be offered have yet to be decided.

In a meeting with Town Councilor Mark Maroon and YMCA supporters and residents, Steve Ives and Gary O’Donnell, representatives of the YMCA national organization, released the results of a survey of Scarborough community members.

“The report is highly satisfactory,” said Dave Thompson, executive director of the Cumberland County YMCA, which would be the parent organization of a Scarborough Y.

The report indicates that not only is Scarborough in need of Y-type services, such as a pool, senior activities and children’s programs, but that the money-raising potential to support a Y is in place, Thompson said.

But he noted that the process is still in the very early stages.

“We’re not anywhere near saying where it’s going to be or what it’s going to look like,” Thompson said.

The next step will be for volunteers and Y board members, including Thompson, to come up with a timetable for the process.

“We’re going to take baby steps in it so we do it well,” he said.

Initially, some community programs will begin in the near future, at the same time as initial fund-raising efforts are made to raise the $250,000 needed to launch a major capital campaign.

Such a campaign would provide the money needed to build a Y, and could take three or four years to complete. Thompson is optimistic about the potential success of such an effort. “If the community wants (a Y), they’re going to be out in force to get it,” he said.

Part of that effort will be approaching people in town who could make major contributions to the effort. But he said the campaign would not include just the town of Scarborough. “The Y doesn’t belong to any municipality,” Thompson said.

Town Manager Ron Owens said, “it’s no surprise that there is enough interest and support here for a YMCA.”

“The critical next step is the need to raise the $250,000 to just get things underway. We’re just in the initial phases now, but I think that the town would be happy to provide the land,” Owens added.

“It will be up to the Y to do all the hiring and the staffing and the fundraising, including any use of corporate sponsors,” Owens said.

“I believe the Y could be the core for future programs whether for the youth, the seniors or the middle-aged. The town would definitely be interested in creating a partnership with the Y where we would try to meet most of the needs of those in town. My understanding is that the Y would offer exercise spaces, community meeting rooms, programming and of course the pool,” Owens said.

“Having a Y here would just be another thing that would keep the town an attractive place. We offer a lot here and the Y would add to that feeling that Scarborough is a good place to locate your business or your family,” he added.

Mark Maroon, a town councilor who made clear he is involved with the Y project as a citizen of Scarborough, and not as a councilor, said he was pleased to hear support not only for a Y but also for existing community services. “Most people believe that there could be a comfortable meshing between the two,” he said.

Maroon said he is opposed to spending town dollars on the Y project, preferring to let funds be raised from private contributions. He said it remained unclear how the town might contribute to the Y effort.

He added that people wanting to participate in the planning process should get in touch with him or Gary O’Donnell to express interest.