KCK keeps its YMCA open, but more deals needed in Raytown, Independence
The Kansas City Star
Kudos to the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and YMCA officials for working out a deal to temporarily keep the 8th Street Family YMCA open past the scheduled April 12 closing date.
And here’s a challenge to YMCA officials plus city and school officials in Raytown and Independence:
Come back to the table and try to work out similar, common-sense plans.
YMCA officials say neither Raytown nor Independence officials have come forward with the money needed to keep the centers open there; Raytown boosters say the YMCA has demanded far too much money for operating expenses.
The new plan in Kansas City, Kan., provides even more evidence that YMCA officials made a mistake in how they - without enough warning - decided last month to pull the plug on money-losing centers in KCK, Raytown and Independence. If the cities and Y officials could have talked more in previous months, that could have increased the likelihood of working out ways to avoid the shutdowns.
In Kansas City, Kan., the Unified Government will shell out $12,500 a month in taxpayer funds for operating and capital expenses to keep the center open.
The center will stay open at least through Aug. 12. By then, though, if the Unified Government has decided to continue its payments through the 2014 budget, the center could remain open into 2014.
In a press release, YMCA President David Byrd said: “We are grateful to the Unified Government for their financial investment so that together we can continue to serve the Kansas City, Kansas, community. It is our hope and intent to work with the Unified Government toward a long-term solution.”
Unified Government officials were pressured to keep the center open by the fact that Kansas City, Kan., has some of the worse health outcomes for any city in Kansas. So closing a center that provides some people with health benefits would not have been positive news.
Instead, keeping the center open could be a wise investment in the future of Kansas City, Kan., residents.
However, Unified Government officials also must try to make sure the center is used a lot in the coming months to make that $12,500-a-month investment pay off.