YMCA Comes to Rescue of Struggling Recreation Center

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Intelligencer Journal/New Era (Lancaster, Pennsylvania)
October 23, 2013 Wednesday
A; Pg. 1
556 words
Ymca To Help Residents Of New Holland Stay Fit;
Will Lease Financially Struggling Recreation Center
Dan Nephin
Lancaster, PA

Staff Writer

[email protected]

The Lancaster Family YMCA has come to the rescue of the New Holland Recreation Center, which opened almost five years ago and faced an uncertain financial future.

The YMCA has agreed to lease the center for three years beginning on Nov. 1, with an option to buy the facility at 123 N. Shirk Road.

The center will be called the YMCA at New Holland and is the organization's first push into the eastern part of the county.

Allen Wessel, chairman of recreation center's board of directors, said Monday that officials have been discussing its future for several years.

"What we did as a board, we wanted to be as proactive as possible just to make sure we could maintain the sustainability," he said. "... As an independent rec center, the financial challenges were getting greater, not less. And based on some of the other local rec centers' struggles as well, we wanted to prevent (closing) as an option."

The Conestoga Valley Community Center in Leola closed in July amid financial struggles.

The $10 million, 55,000-square-foot New Holland facility was built in a former Good's Furniture warehouse, just outside New Holland.

The center opened in January 2009. It has about 1,000 members from the eastern Lancaster County area and about 75 to 80 employees, most of whom are part time. About eight are full time.

As many of the employees as possible will keep their jobs, according to Wessel and Jeff Kenderdine, president and CEO of Lancaster Family YMCA.

"We intend to preserve and keep on as many of those folks as possible," Kenderdine said.

The new arrangements will offer opportunities for the recreation center, Kenderdine said.

"What I don't know yet is what that structure will look like," he said.

Wessel said the center faced the possibility of having to close within a year because of financial problems.

The center relies on donations, memberships and fundraising for operating costs; it does not receive funding from municipalities, Wessel said. Money for the center came from private funds, donations and a $2.1 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant.

"I feel honored that the New Holland board and community is entrusting us with this wonderful community asset. And we feel the burden of that trust," Kenderdine said. "... We are going to make this work because the New Holland community deserves the very best."

He and Wessel said the partnership embodies the organizations' missions to serve the community.

"The YMCA is such a like-minded organization in terms of its mission. That was very important to the board as well," Wessel said.

The YMCA's mission is youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

The partnership presents an opportunity to carry out that mission across school district and municipal boundaries, Kenderdine said.

"The Lancaster Y, our service area, is all of Lancaster County. This was certainly a unique - I hate to call this an opportunity - but I think ultimately it will be, for us to build more of a network or support system throughout the county," Kenderdine said.

Under the agreement, New Holland Rec members will have membership privileges at the YMCA's Lancaster and Lampeter-Strasburg branches.

The YMCA also is hoping to build a 52,000-square foot Western Lancaster County YMCA in Rapho Township. That's expected to open by the end of 2016.

Staff A Man Works Out Monday At The New Holland Recreation Center, Which Will Soon Become The Ymca At New Holland. Jeff Ruppenthal
Staff Photos Above, Jeff Kenderine, Left, President And Ceo Of The Lancaster Family Ymca, And Allen Wessel, Chairman Of The Board For The New Holland Recreation Center, Pose Monday Inside The Rec Center. Below Is The Outside Of The Rec Center At 123 N. Shirk Road. Jeff Ruppenthal
October 23, 2013

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