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Operating expenses to be borne by Y

8/8/2014, 6 a.m.

Edward G. Munster, YMCA of Metro Atlanta president and CEO, responds to DeKalb County Commissioners Jeff Rader and Kathie Gannon:

The DeKalb County Development Authority and county legal representatives drafted this master agreement, similar to the one for Wade Walker Park Y. The Y engaged with the county in 2009 after the Parks & Recreation Master Plan was approved. The county’s plan specifically names the Y as a partner with whom the county plans to collaborate.

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Edward Munster

A meeting was held with the district 3, 5 and 7 commissioners, and support letters were received in 2010. Y staff attended meetings with the county manager, deputy county manager, Parks and Recreation director, executive director for green space, and the contract compliance director.

Y staff negotiated with those assigned to represent the county.

The Y is bringing a physical asset of a wellness facility and 18 acres of green space to the table and is selling this asset for an agreed-upon price of $4.9 million. All proceeds will be reinvested into this property, keeping the resources in DeKalb County. The Y would then take a $1 per year lease to continue operating the facility.

All operating expenses will be borne by the Y, at no risk to the county, currently $1.3 million per year. The Y is bringing federal grants and private contributions to the South DeKalb Y that provide financial assistance, totaling more than $10 million in the past 10 years.

Three appraisals were conducted, two commissioned by DeKalb County, to determine the market value. The Y and county came to an agreement in the middle of the appraisals, which are on file at DeKalb County.

The South DeKalb Y opened in 1970, and county recreation facilities followed, obligating taxpayer dollars to centers that duplicate Y services. County facilities were underbuilt.

According to county plans, 70,000 square feet of program space are needed to serve this part of DeKalb. The Lou Walker Center pool accommodates up to 10 adults for an exercise class and is not designed for aquatic programs or swim lessons. The South DeKalb Y has the only functioning full-size pool in this part of the county, which can help to fill service gaps.

We are a community partner in addressing health disparities. Our YMCA is one of few organizations using research-to-practice programs that can show positive outcomes in improving the health of those who regularly participate in Y wellness programs.

Coaching is free with membership. The Coach Approach exercise support process developed by the Atlanta Y’s director of wellness advancement was selected by Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University to help the recovery of those with breast cancer.

The Y has similar programs for children and teens. The Coach Approach, Youth Fit 4 Life and Start for Life are used in preventive medicine, community health promotion and academic medicine settings in the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, and Japan.

They have been supported by the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services and Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Endorsement of their positive effects has been given by the National Institutes of Health’s Research-tested Intervention Programs.