Proposal could put YMCA of Tuscaloosa buildings in city’s hands

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A new idea is being kicked around Tuscaloosa that could both help out the struggling YMCA and bring more of its resources to the city.

The city’s finance committee recently voted to is suggest the city purchase Tuscaloosa’s YMCA downtown building, along with the Benjamin Barnes location. This all comes with a price tag of $1.57 million, but some in the city believe there’s a huge benefit for the community in the purchase. 

The official decision will be finalized early next year when the proposition goes to city council, but both the YMCA and the city are looking to be onboard. Jeff Knox, CEO of Tuscaloosa’s YMCA, is in favor of the purchase as well.

“During COVID, a lot of businesses especially organizations and nonprofits, have had a difficult time conducting business especially when one of your primary drivers is health and wellness with things being shut down for several months,” Knox said.

The YMCA of Tuscaloosa holds a long legacy of community service in the city. As they hold a pretty large amount of debt, they were inclined to reach out for a lifeline.  

“The YMCA of Tuscaloosa had taken on a capital debt several years ago to redo an aging facility at their downtown building, so to really expedite getting out of that debt so we can expand services back into the community. We approached the city about a public private partnership which YMCA’s all over the country do,” Knox said.

If passed, the agreement would give ownership to the city while leaving maintenance and upkeep to the YMCA and taxpayers of Tuscaloosa. 

The YMCA board of directors is hoping to further develop family and healthy living programs with the decision of this purchase. 

“The potential of instead of giving, paying off debt service being able to redirect those financial resources into program development, facility upkeep, and staff development to better be able to serve the specific needs,” Knox explained.

The Benjamin Barnes location in west Tuscaloosa tailors to youth and family programs and the YMCA’s board of directors plan to put the focus on those programs at that location. 

Pending council approval, the YMCA could be in the hands of the city by early 2021. 


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