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Vote on South DeKalb Y deferred to Sept. 9

8/15/2014, 6 a.m.

The controversial public-private agreement for DeKalb County to purchase the South YMCA for $4.9 million has been deferred again.

The DeKalb Board of Commissioners is now set to vote on the agreement at its Sept. 9 meeting.

At their Aug. 12 meeting, commissioners voted to defer the issue while they consider options and compromises to make the agreement more appealing to taxpayers.

The proposed agreement calls for the county to use green space funds to acquire the South DeKalb YMCA and its 18-acre property with its six soccer fields, tennis courts, and lake and lease it back to the YMCA for $1 a year for up to 50 years.

Under the plan, the county will purchase the property with $4 million in countywide acquisition funds from the 2001 and 2006 Parks Bond Funds.

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Larry Johnson

District 3 and 7 Commissioners Larry Johnson and Stan Watson, who represent the area, are putting in the balance from their districts’ green space allocations from the 2001 Bond Fund.

Watson is chipping in $651,842, and Johnson, $307,250.

Their $959,092 contributions will exhaust all the land acquisition money for their districts.

Johnson said at Tuesday’s board meeting that some suggestions made to him by residents include eliminating the ZIP code service area for the Y, scrapping enrollment fees, and offering a 25 percent discount on membership scholarships for 10 years.

“I think we are getting closer and looking at other options,” Johnson said.

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Kathie Gannon

District 6 Commissioner Kathie Gannon, who opposes the current agreement, said the YMCA needs to be open to the citizens and the county who are paying for it.

She said if the county purchases the property, it should be able to hold events.

“It needs to help the county save money,” she said.

In a news release Thursday, Gannon listed a number of things that she sent to the administration, which she said would begin to make the partnership real for both the county and the YMCA.

She wants more free access to the YMCA facility for DeKalb residents and signage that identifies that property as a “county facility.”

“There should be county signage with our park and building brand,” Gannon said. “The Y can also have their logo signage under ours. The signage should reflect a partnership.”

Gannon also wants two-hour blocks of time to be available daily, free of charge, for seniors in the morning and adults/youth sometime after 6 p.m. until all Park Bonds used in the purchase are retired.

She also wants the Parks and Recreation Department and the YMCA to establish an after-school program, coordinated with the DeKalb School Board, to ensure some academic component is incorporated and that parents in nearby schools are aware of the opportunity.

“Based on a current partnership model, the county would allow for the Y county facility space to be used and a modest fee would be charged to cover the Y staffing,” she said.

She also would like to see the Parks and Recreation Department have access for programming at least two days per quarter for county programming like basketball camp or swim meets.

The county currently pays $5,000 to $6,000 to other entities to host its meets.

“Once the pool is renovated on our dime, we should be able to save that cost,” Gannon said.

She also wants the county’s Parks and Recreation Department to write a plan for the enhancement of the green space that the county is purchasing.

“If soccer fields are part of the renovation, the county should be a partner in the programming,” she said.

Annually, the YMCA shall provide a certified financial statement for operating costs and revenues to DeKalb County through the Parks and Recreation Department. The department and the YMCA will review the programming for the after-school and public recreation programs.

All surplus revenue must be redirected into Parks and Recreation for the benefit of all DeKalb citizens.

The South DeKalb Y is hosting tours of the property on Aug. 16 for residents to stop by and see its green space. The tour takes place at 8:30, 9:30 and 10 a.m.

The South DeKalb Y is at 2565 Snapfinger Road. For more information, call 404-371-2425.