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The former Essig Youth Center being acquired will house the county's Aging Services program, and indoor recreational center and more.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
The Franklin County Board of Supervisors emerged from a closed meeting Tuesday afternoon and voted unanimously to proceed with two new initiatives officials said are designed to serve multiple generations of county residents.
First, the board announced that the county will acquire at a bargain price two properties in Rocky Mount currently occupied by the Franklin County Family YMCA on Technology Drive — including the main YMCA facility and the Essig Youth Center. The YMCA will lease the main facility from the county and the former Essig Youth Center will house the county’s Aging Services program, an indoor recreational center and more.
The purchase is scheduled to close today.
“We’re thrilled to have the stability of a local partner in serving the community,” said Jeanne Martin, president of the Franklin County YMCA board.
Separately, the board, with Supervisor Cline Brubaker absent, voted to set aside $1.5 million in “seed money” to move toward creating a new Career and Technical Education Center for Franklin County High School.
Mark Church, superintendent of Franklin County Public Schools, reacted positively to the supervisors’ vote.
“I’m excited and pleased that our board of supervisors has taken this step to help us get a new career and technical center,” said Church, who added that career and technical education has been his life’s work.
Currently, the high school’s related programs are spread across separate and cramped facilities and there has been general agreement that a new center is needed. Church said a new center could offer additional programs and also provide flexibility in training that could be important to prospective employers and long-term economic development.
In an initial budget presentation in March to supervisors, the school board asked for $350,000 to help jump-start the process of creating a new Career and Technical Education Center. But the school board eventually dropped that request from its budget.
A new center could cost as much as $50 million, according to some estimates, though Church said the project could be scaled back if need be.
“This is something our community needs to get behind,” Church said. “It’s going to take a real commitment to put a center here.”
A potential site has not been identified but Church said it would be ideal to locate a new center in the vicinity of the high school.
In an email, Sarah Alexander, school board chairwoman, also celebrated the supervisors’ action.
“The establishment of a Career and Technical Education Center is of paramount importance to the future of many FCHS students; therefore, it is of paramount importance to Franklin County,” Alexander said. “I look forward to cooperation between both boards to ensure that this initiative succeeds.”
Meanwhile, Martin said the YMCA will lease its main building from the county “until such time as we are in a position to purchase [it].” The annual lease payment to the county will be $85,560.
In December 2011, the financially strapped Franklin County YMCA surrendered ownership of its Rocky Mount properties to CRM Mid-Atlantic Properties, an affiliate of SunTrust bank. The YMCA also has facilities at Ferrum College and at Smith Mountain Lake. It has leased the Rocky Mount facilities from CRM Mid-Atlantic and the properties have also been marketed for sale.
County Administrator Rick Huff said the county has housed its Aging Services program in leased space since the 1970s that is not fully compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. He said in a news release that the former Essig Youth Center “will make a great space for senior-related programming while providing an additional gymnasium and classroom space for youth and adult use.”
The county anticipates that its population of residents aged 65 and older will grow by about 50 percent by 2030.
Officials said the “Land of Wonder” preschool will continue in the youth center space, as will the 2013 summer camp.
Huff said the purchase of the YMCA buildings was aided primarily by higher than projected revenues from real estate, personal property and sales taxes in the current fiscal year.
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