YMCA officials will keep a survey open until Sept. 1 to gather more details about recreation needs in western Nevada County, they said this week.
Jay Lowden, CEO of YMCA of Superior California, said he needs as much information as possible in order to move forward with more programs — and some day a facility. The YMCA already has a branch in this area — the Gold Country YMCA — so what’s needed now is the will to expand it, he said.
“People have to be passionate,” Lowden said, speaking before more than 50 people crowded into the Memorial Park clubhouse in Grass Valley Wednesday night. “There has to be a community buy-in — there has to be volunteers, and it has to be sustainable and financially viable.”
Lowden said 65 people have already responded to the survey, and he would like to hear from many more, he said.
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Lowden said he also wants to form a “diverse” advisory board of about 12 members, and is seeking details on solid fundraising options.
“We’re a long way down the road,” he said when asked about building a new YMCA facility.
“But if you give me a check for $10 million, I’ll change the answer to that question.”
Members of the master swimmers program at Memorial Park pool, child and family agency leaders and teens in the youth activities group NEO were among those attending the informational meeting on the future of YMCA locally.
“I think you need a way to reach a more general population,” said Rachel Pena-Roos, an administrator in a southern Nevada County mental health agency for children from low-income families.
“I got three copies of the survey link by email, but I’m in the field of service to children. We’ve got to be able to reach out to the families who are not being served,” she said.
Also present was Grass Valley Vice Mayor Jason Fouyer, who said he would support a ballot measure to form a parks and recreation district that would fund a new YMCA.
“We are quite confident you can get support in this community,” Fouyer told Lowden. “We’ve done a ‘Dogs Run Free’ park, and a skateboard park, and we could do this.”
A prior effort more than 10 years ago to form a parks and recreation district failed, but Fouyer said he believes that people will support one now. He pointed to Truckee, for example, which has a parks and recreation district that finances a popular and successful community swimming pool.
“The city (of Grass Valley) doesn’t do a great job managing these facilities,” Fouyer added. “If we got a district, we would like to do a partnership with the YMCA to manage the operation.”
Fouyer, who is running in a four-way race on Nov. 4 for re-election to one of two open seats on Grass Valley City Council, said later it would take at least two years to get a measure for a parks and recreation district on the ballot, but that he will begin pushing for it now.
“We need this for the community,” he said.
Lowden said survey results will be posted after all the responses are tabulated.
So far, people have said the greatest community needs are for more activities for teens, safe places for teens to go and for more swimming opportunities. People also expressed that affordability was a concern.
“We have a belief that everyone who wants to be involved in the YMCA — especially children — should be able to, regardless of financial circumstances,” Lowden said.
MaryJane Huenergardt, a volunteer YMCA coordinator in Nevada County, said she hopes to work with the local schools this fall to run additional programs.
A YMCA summer camp this year at Memorial Park was highly successful, she said.
“Email the survey link to your contacts group,” Huenergardt told the attendees. “Post it on your Facebook page.”
To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.