Lake Norman & Mooresville

Troutman offers Barium Springs YMCA support but no money

The Barium Springs YMCA, which must negotiate a new lease for the land it sits on and has seen chronically low membership since it opened, is looking for support from the town of Troutman to help it continue in the future.

At its Sept. 11 meeting, the Troutman Town Board adopted a resolution of support for the YMCA, whose 15-year lease agreement with the Barium Springs Home for Children expires in 2015.

While the resolution didn’t commit any town funds, it did leave the door open for “an eventual partnership” between the town and the YMCA.

The Barium Springs YMCA complex, on the east side of N.C. 21, was built on property owned by the children’s home. It includes a large swimming pool, gym and several recreation fields. It was built in 2000 with expectations that many new residents moving into the Troutman area would become members.

“The recession really hit us hard” said Angela Blakely, executive director of the Statesville/Barium Springs YMCA. “Many of the proposed residential developments for the Troutman area were either delayed or never built, and our membership rolls remained below expectations for several years.”

To address this, Blakely said, the organization has held membership drives four times a year, during which the $50 fee to join the Y has been waived. It also has offered guest passes to residents in new housing developments.

“We have experienced a significant increase in membership within the last year or so, and the town’s support will be very helpful as we begin our lease negotiations with the home.”

The new lease agreement will specify how much the Y must pay the home annually to remain at that location. Currently, the YMCA pays $50,000 per year.

In the resolution, the aldermen noted that the Y has been “a primary recreation center for the Troutman community for nearly 15 years, with membership to more than 400 local individuals and families. We strongly encourage the YMCA to remain in place and continue to serve the community as it has for so many years.”

Alderman Paul Henkel noted that the Y has been losing money ever since it opened. “It’s a nonprofit but it’s also a business and they can’t keep operating in the red. They certainly are an asset to the community, and I’d hate to lose it.”

This is not the first time the Y’s fiscal challenges have been on the town board’s agenda. Four years ago, YMCA officials asked for $40,000 as well as a formal association with the town, offering discounted annual memberships to residents. In a split vote, the town board rejected the request.

Although Troutman has since built a municipal outdoor park and recreational facility, the resolution states that “an eventual partnership between the town and the YMCA may provide additional and varied recreational opportunities for residents of Troutman and the community at large.”