News

Y not have a Y(MCA) in Rockdale?

Partnerships, support, momentum, keys to creating recreational facility
By MIKE BROWN
Reporter Editor


Cori Cunningham, executive director of financial/marketing for Williamson County YMCA showed slides of facilities in that county during Thursday exploratory meeting at Patterson Center. 
Reporter/Mike Brown Cori Cunningham, executive director of financial/marketing for Williamson County YMCA showed slides of facilities in that county during Thursday exploratory meeting at Patterson Center. Reporter/Mike Brown If Rockdale and Milam County want a YMCA, everyone involved needs to “pool” their resources.

Pun intended.

Pools, gyms, workout facilities, summer camps, children’s activities, programs for all, are part of the well-known organization which is in 10,000 neighborhoods across America but not yet in Rockdale or Milam County.

A crowd of more than 80 came to the Patterson Civic Center Thursday evening hoping to remedy that situation some day. The informational session was hosted by the Rockdale Municipal Development District (MDD) board.

Jeff Andresen, president/CEO of the Williamson County YMCA, said no one group generally lands a Y facility.

“Sixty-five percent of YMCAs are built through partnerships,” he said. “Cities, counties, school districts, developers, hospitals all have a role to play.”


Crowd of more than 80 expressed interest in exploring initial strategies to attract YMCA services to Rockdale and Milam County. 
Reporter/Mike Brown Crowd of more than 80 expressed interest in exploring initial strategies to attract YMCA services to Rockdale and Milam County. Reporter/Mike Brown MARKET—Gary Griesbach, MDD board chair, opened the meeting by asking for a show of hands from those who had personal workout devices at home.

More than half the crowd raised their hands. Griesbach then asked how many used them every day.

Virtually all the hands went down.

A Y MCA w ill draw people who are inclined to work out but not motivated to do it at home, Andresen said.

“I know people leave Rockdale and go work out in other places,” Griesbach said.

He said studies show 8.3 percent of a community will become members of a Y, about half the 20 percent of the population who are physically active.


Gary Griesbach (L), asked for show of hands from those who had personal fitness devices at home, but didn’t use them. Jeff Andresen said two thirds of all YMCAs are built by partnership scenarios. Gary Griesbach (L), asked for show of hands from those who had personal fitness devices at home, but didn’t use them. Jeff Andresen said two thirds of all YMCAs are built by partnership scenarios. Andresen said YMCAs are used throughout the day and night by all members of a family.

“We’ll get the moms during the day, the school kids in the late afternoon, the dads after work and then dad and mom and the kids at night,” he said.

Cori Cunningham, executive director of financial/marketing for the Williamson County YMCA, showed slides of that organization’s impressive facilities and noted the Round Rock Y has 15,000 members.

MOMENTUM—But Rockdale isn’t Round Rock. Or Hutto or Taylor. How could it happen here?

“First you need momentum,” Andresen said. “It has to be community driven. People think about a YMCA based on when they were last in one.”

And that has changed over the years.

“At one time the Y had the third largest number of hotel rooms in the world,” he said. One of the Williamson County YMCAs began as a “latchkey” program to take care of children after school.

But most YMCAs emerge from community will and partnership between several entities.

“Cities and counties want to provide recreational opportunities for residents,” he said. “Schools want facilities for their athletic teams, particularly swim teams.”

He said hospitals will partner with Ys for physical therapy venues and places to teach wellness.

“ Developers and businesses love to have YMCAs nearby because we generate lots of potential customers,” he said.

Andresen estimated a YMCA in Rockdale could provide 100 jobs, 20 of them full-time.

BONDS—And the funding?

Bond issues, floated by one or more of the partner entities, are a big part of the fund raising.

Andresen said Y’s are generally funded roughly one third each by fund-raising, partner entities and debt.

“They just don’t drop out of the sky,” Andresen said.

In fact, YMCA bond proposals have failed in Taylor, Hutto and Leander.

But that doesn’t mean towns the size of Rockdale can’t get YMCAs.

“I built one in Buffalo, Wyoming, population 4,000,” Andresen said.

But he cautioned. “Usually, no matter the size of the town, they want it all (YMCA amenities),” he said. “A smaller town can’t afford it all.”

Several in the audience noted that a Rockdale facility would be targeted to serve all of Milam County and would also expect to draw from neighboring counties.

WHAT’S NEXT?—The biggest question asked Thursday was “where do we go from here?”

Andresen said momentum for acquiring a YMCA must be kept stoked.

“It’s community driven,” he said.

A work session, and possibly a more wide-ranging community meeting, are planned for the near future. The step after that would be to identify possible partners.

Griesbach said the YMCA effort came about after the MDD ranked pursuit of such a facility high on a list of 33 community development ideas.


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