The YMCA hasn't been in Flagler County since 2010 but could return, if the community can raise enough money.
The Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club is losing money, and, so far, discussions with the YMCA have not yielded the type of partnership that Flagler Schools administration has hoped for. Without a deal in place, Superintendent Jacob Oliva has recommended closing the pool to the public, effective Sept. 7, but the deal is not dead.
Teresa Rand, president and CEO of Volusia Flagler YMCA, said that based on her calcuations the Y would be able to inhabit the current facilities at Belle Terre if the community could raise $200,000 to help offset scholarships.
The model for the Y is to not turn away anyone; scholarships are offered to those who can't afford a membership to use the facilities, and if the Y took over the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club, that guarantee would remain, and it would leave the Y operating at a $50,000 to $75,000 deficit. The $200,000 sum would give a sufficient "cushion" of 18 to 24 months as the Y built up memberships.
"The Y certainly wants to have a presence in Flagler," Rand said. "Ever since the Y left in 2010, we've been trying to find a presence." Other than some summer programs with the Flagler County Sheriff's Office, however, there hasn't been a partnership. At one point, there were 800 members of the Y in Flagler County.
Fundraising efforts have been successful in Volusia County, where the Y has six facilities, plus Camp Winona. Less than a year ago, Rand said, the Y embarked on a $5 million campaign, and so far $3 million has been raised. In total, the Y gives away $1.1 million per year in scholarship, and only raises about $500,000, so the rest comes from grants and other sources.
Rand said that, in the mean time, the decision to close the pool will not be easy for Flagler Schools. But, she said, "they have to be good stewards with their dollars." In the end, the talks had a time limit because of Flagler Schools' budget deadlines, and the funding plans for the necessary capital improvements to the Belle Terre facilities couldn't be resolved.
If the community can raise the $200,000, though, "that would make the decision easier," she said. "I absolutely believe that, between us and the school, we could work out the capital improvement projects."