Move by city makes YMCA stronger

Published 5:01 pm Friday, April 17, 2009

Two developments announced Monday night represent big steps forward for the city of Greenville.

The first item of business on the city council agenda was formation of the YMCA Public Park and Recreation Board. The move allows the city to assume custody of YMCA property and pursue new options to address the YMCA’s debt service, a struggle that threatened operations at the community-focused facility.

The companion ordinance passed by the city created a $1-per-day occupancy fee on Greenville hotel rooms, immediately addressing the YMCA debt load. Projections indicate the license tax will more than cover monthly obligations, allowing the board to focus on growing and improving YMCA programs.

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Management of the facility will fall under the umbrella of the Montgomery YMCA, which includes 18 branches in six Central Alabama counties. The result of these moves is a stronger, more stable YMCA that can now concentrate solely on its mission to build character, make a difference and change lives.

In a separate meeting later Monday night, Mayor Dexter McLendon announced a proposed tax-incentive strategy central to his vision of a revitalized downtown.

Speaking to a group of business and property owners, McLendon outlined a plan that would return three of the four cents per dollar collected in city sales tax to new businesses locating downtown. The remaining cent would go into a fund set aside for the Ritz Theatre.

The tax break would be effective for three years and apply to new businesses locating along Commerce Street from the underpass to the courthouse. Additional incentives would also be given for the local purchase of materials used to renovate downtown buildings.

This initial meeting and the announcement that more will follow are promising.

With involvement of business and property owners along with civic and community leaders, the chances of a plan to reinvigorate the heart of the city increases exponentially.