Hurdles remain in the path for YMCA project at Cuthbertson

Area site-base teams hear YMCA facilities presentation

by Mark DiBiasio

A look at the proposed facility, which would be built next to Cuthbertson Middle School. (Rendering courtesy of Union County Public Schools)

Only a few hurdles remain for a first of a kind partnership between the Union County Board of Education and the YMCA. The project would involve building a 30,000 square foot aquatic and fitness center on the Cuthbertson campus in Waxhaw.

The site-based teams from Weddington, Marvin Ridge, Parkwood and Cuthbertson clusters met Sept. 22 to hear the YMCA presentation. Each site-based team will vote to endorse or reject the partnership concept. Every school in North Carolina employs a site-based management team consisting of teachers, administrators and parent volunteers.

“The meeting was very well attended; the [Y presentation] was well received,” Dr. Mike Webb said in his update to the Facilities Committee meeting Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Webb serves as the Associate Superintendent of Building Operations. He and Facilities Director Don Hughes, along with representatives from the YMCA made a presentation to the site-based team members.

“A lot of positive comments were made to us,” Webb said, “they are really excited about the opportunity of having the Y come to Union County.”

In concluding his update to the committee, Dr. Webb related that he was waiting for feedback from the school principals; the deadline is this Friday Sept. 30 at noon.  “I am waiting to hear either a thumbs-up from the site-based teams or a thumbs-down.” Webb said, “Everybody knows that if it is a thumbs-down then for us it’s a moot point and we will disconnect from forming the partnership.”

“School board and the administration depend heavily on input from the site-based teams,” Chairman Dean Arp said. “They help us manage the schools and we are very interested in hearing their opinions.”

The next hurdle will be a presentation by the school board to Union County commissioners, asking for their consent in utilizing school property in a lease contract with the YMCA. Typically if the school system determines that it has surplus property, the county has the option to utilize it for one of their needs. The Cuthbertson property was purchased with the idea of building four schools; two elementary schools, in addition to the middle and high school completed in
2009.

According to a recent McKibben enrollment forecast, the first elementary school will not be needed at Cuthbertson until 2019 or later. The second elementary school could be even further in the future.

The proposed 50 year lease for 14.8 acres of land at the Cuthbertson campus does not involve a transfer of ownership. In fact, at the conclusion of the lease, Union County will own the building and associated facilities.

Many of the questions asked by site-based members and answered during the presentation concerned access, use of the facilities for swim teams and fitness curriculum, maintaining shared ball-fields and security, both in the Y and the adjacent schools.

A possible stumbling block may involve the annual value contribution where the YMCA provides an equivalent value in facilities use and in kind services that equate the value of the leased property. The initial presentation by the Y suggested using the 2011 appraised value of $540,000 from the 14.8 acres, as a baseline for the lease agreement. This would require an annual value contribution of $10,800 over a 50 year
lease.

“I’d like to work towards an annual value contribution by the Y, including in-kind services and facilities use that approximates our original purchase cost, which was close to $80,000 an acre,” Arp said. The numbers and services will be refined as the process goes forward.”

The school board will revisit the YMCA proposal at its October meeting.

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