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Morrison YMCA, county are partners in developing Y campus

Here is a lesser known fact about a favorite south Charlotte amenity: The Morrison YMCA off Bryant Farms Road sits on property mostly owned by Mecklenburg County, and the original site plans called it the Ballantyne Community Park.

Mecklenburg County had land, but needed money to develop it. The YMCA had the money but needed land, so they entered into a partnership. .

"Through this collaboration, our department and the YMCA have been able to build an exceptional complex that meets the active and passive recreational needs of our citizens," said Lee Jones, director of capital planning for Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department.

The YMCA owns the buildings and a small portion of the land. Mecklenburg County and the YMCA have both contributed money toward a multiphase expansion of a pavilion and athletic fields. Phase one and two are complete, and they include: four athletic fields, a jogging and walking trail, the Bojangles' pavilion, a parking area and a road accessible from Community House Road. Bojangles' pavilion houses a picnic shelter, art studio, temperature-controlled classroom, concession stand and a 6,000-square-foot airnasium, which is a covered outdoor play area.

Phase three has not begun. Because of the economic climate, the completion date had to be extended to October 2013. Phase three will include a youth baseball complex with four multiuse athletic fields, and a path to walk to them. The last estimate for the Phase three project totaled $1,038,490, with the YMCA contributing $775,000. The county will be responsible for the remainder of the costs.

"A parcel of land will still be undeveloped at the site, so it could hold additional amenities in the future," said Jones.

If you are not a paying member of the YMCA, you can still reserve a field or Bojangles' pavilion through the YMCA or Park and Recreation websites. The pricing structure is the same. Priority days have been assigned to the YMCA and Park and Recreation. This means some days are easier to reserve a field, depending on who you go through.

The YMCA has another partnership with neighboring Hawk Ridge Elementary School, allowing the school to use YMCA fields during school hours. Children can easily walk to the fields or to the YMCA's after school program.

The YMCA pays to maintain the fields, so this helps Mecklenburg County. The county has entered into similar partnerships with Queens University of Charlotte and the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

"The partnership between the YMCA and MCPR is a national model for private/public collaborations that work. Leaders from both organizations have been committed to sensible solutions that benefit YMCA members, the taxpayers and the community at large," said Steve Bowers, community vice president of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte."

The Morrison YMCA also has another expansion underway to further develop their indoor facilities, but they are partnered with Forest Hill Church for that project.

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