Marsena Scott

October 25, 2012

Delaware city will hear from the public this week on whether it should turn over its recreation programming to the Central Ohio YMCA.

Delaware City Council decided to host an informational session at its last council meeting; the meeting has been set from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday in the Hilborn room at Mingo Park, 500 E. Lincoln Ave., Delaware.

The proposal could save the city about $70,000 a year, YMCA officials have said. Paul Weber, YMCA vice president of district operations, has been studying the city’s parks and recreation operations to determine whether taking over the recreation side of the department would be feasible.

With pending funding decreases from the state Local Government Fund, Delaware will be considering budget cuts, and is looking at the YMCA’s offer to take over some of the city’s recreational functions as a cost-saving measure.

Decreases in funding are expected to be 50 percent over the next two years, or about $500,000 total. As it stands now, the city already subsidizes its recreation department with at least $300,000 a year.

With the YMCA community center opening in the fall on South Houk Road, the nonprofit will be hiring staff in May or June, so it would like a decision from the city as soon as possible. Since job titles and descriptions would be altered based on whether the city and the YMCA merge, Weber said it would be best for the collaboration to happen before the facility opens.

Several council members said many of their constituents have voiced concerns about the issue and would prefer that the city leave the parks and recreation department alone. However, City Mayor Gary Milner has said he has only received one negative comment on the proposal.

As part of the YMCA’s proposal, it would hire a city/YMCA director who would oversee operations at both the Delaware Community Center YMCA and Mingo Park, as well as an aquatics/program director to oversee the pools at the same locations.

The current proposal states that the YMCA would do minor maintenance; the pool would still be owned by the city, so it would be responsible for larger maintenance costs, such as if a pump went out.

The plan proposes that the city pay a management fee of about $205,000.

The YMCA would also hire directors for membership; fitness; adult and youth sports; family, teens and youth and facilities, who could also program and supervise both city facilities at the community center and Mingo Park.

Two customer payment scales would be developed: one for YMCA members and program members at the community center and the other for residents and nonresidents at traditional city events.

The report proposes that beginning Jan. 1, 2012, all previously city, non-aquatic programs would be operated by the YMCA utilizing the city’s current fees. Youth basketball would be the first collaborative program between the city and the YMCA, in which registration and scheduling would happen at the community center.

A receptionist hired and paid through the YMCA would still be stationed at Mingo Park to take registrations.

Current city recreation staff members would be given the option to apply and interview for the YMCA recreation positions and, if hired, would be considered YMCA employees.

Along with the exit of former parks and recreation director Darren Hurley, the under construction center provided the backdrop and opportunity for initial discussions in November on recreation programming consolidation.

Weber first made the proposal to the city’s parks and recreation advisory board, which was met with some concern at that time.