Jackson County considers millage to build new YMCA

JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — Plans are in the works for a new YMCA facility in Jackson.

But these aren’t your typical development plans.

They call for approval by the county board, and voter consideration before ground can be broke.

It has served the Jackson community for more than 55 years, but YMCA staff feels the building on Wesley Street has outlived itself.

“It’s aging rapidly and we really need to do something,” said Jackson YMCA CEO Rick Wilson.

The Y has a plan to build a new facility next to the current building downtown with help from Jackson County.

“The facility would be owned by the county, or owned by the community. But it would be run as a YMCA,” Wilson said.

That requires voters approving a millage to pay for the project with tax dollars.

“We have a membership of around 6,500 people. But there are so many more people who use the YMCA,” Wilson said.

But before the plan can go before voters on the May ballot, it has to be approved by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.

It’s already off to a rocky start, failing in a tie vote last week.

County Commissioner David Elwell voted against the plan.

While his views don’t reflect the entire board, he feels the proposal isn’t fair.

“That would mean people in outlying areas that don’t use the Y would end up paying part of the bill for a $15-17 million building.  I don’t think the argument is there to tax every taxpayer in the county,” Elwell said.

The YMCA plans on kicking in about $5 million of its own money.

But the non-profit hopes to get something back from the community it’s given so much to.

“Imagine your community without a YMCA. Would we be better off, or worse off? Eventually it’s going to come to the point where it’s going to need to be done,” Wilson said.

The county board is expected to vote on the proposal again next week.

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