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YMCA looking to grow in area

9 September 2001

 Dayton Daily News

By Joann Rouse
Warren County Bureau
Sunday, September 9, 2001

The group of young Christian men who opened up a downtown Dayton home in 1870 to serve their community could have had no idea of what they started.

Today's YMCA of Metropolitan Dayton is the largest provider of day care for children in Montgomery County, operates a regional camp in Warren County that draws kids and adults from across southwest Ohio, has five multimillion dollar recreation centers and provides services out of 40 more satellite centers in churches, homes and schools throughout the Miami Valley.

And the Y is only getting warmed up, says President and CEO Michael Parks.

The Dayton Y is building an Englewood recreation center scheduled to open in February and has proposals on the table for new YMCAs in Huber Heights and in Miamisburg, Miami Twp. or West Carollton area. This month, the Dayton Y will start soliciting donations to build a recreation center in Eaton designed specifically to meet the needs of teens.

The Dayton Y also has had discussions with the Middletown YMCA about building a center in Franklin and has met with the city of Springboro about expanding the Helen and Charles Coffman Family YMCA with a skateboard park.

"There has been more building activity recently," Parks said. "It's become clear that this is the need of the day. In the past, housing was a big need in Dayton and the YMCA was big into housing. Now it's providing activities for youth and families."

Experts say the increasing popularity of community recreation centers is tied to an awareness of the positive effects of exercise. Local officials say the Y's main draw is that it gives young people something to do and provides a meeting place for the community. The recreation centers also help boost property values.

The Dayton Y has been aggressively seeking collaborators to fill this niche.

In Eaton, the YMCA is a partnership run by the Dayton Y, Preble County and the city of Eaton. The Englewood Y is a partnership with Charles and Arlene Kleptz of Clayton, the Kettering Medical Center and the city of Union.

Parks said the Y is having discussions with Sycamore Hospital about being a partner in the Miami Twp. area project.

"Together we can provide better services than any one of us can do alone," Parks said. "And in this day and age where budgets are strained and resources tight, this is the most efficient way to provide services."

The YMCA has five branches in operation: the Downtown YMCA on Monument Boulevard in Dayton, the West Community Y on Dayton Liberty Road, the South Community Y in Kettering, the Charles and Helen Coffman Family Y in Springboro and Camp Kern, located about six miles east of Lebanon.

Englewood's Kleptz Family YMCA is scheduled to open in February. The $7.3 million, 60,000-square-foot facility is being built at the southeast corner of Hoke and National roads on land donated by Charles and Arlene Kleptz of Clayton.

About 40,000 square feet will house the rec center and another 20,000 feet will hold the Kettering Medical Center's health and wellness center, which would specialize in physical therapy, sports medicine and cardiac rehabilitation.

In Huber Heights, city and YMCA officials hope to present city council with a plan to build its own center by the end of next year.

"We are in the very initial stages of identifying the needs and who the partners would be," Parks said.

The Dayton Ys feature gymnasiums, indoor pools, children's playland and climbing areas, multi-purpose community rooms with workout and weight areas and outdoor game fields for soccer and baseball.

The YMCA's successes in Warren County have prompted officials in Franklin to consider building their own recreation center. Springboro's Y operated in the black its first year and had to expand in less than a year.

In March, Franklin Twp. Trustee Rupert Ruppert met with about 25 community leaders to discuss the possibility of asking voters to pass a levy to pay for a $1 million rec center. About the same time, the Middletown YMCA and the Dayton YMCA formed an operating alliance to look at how they can offer programs on a regional level.

"This is something we're considering doing together," Parks said.

The Eaton Y is scheduled to open in 2003 on the northwest side of the city. The building will have 28,000 square feet reserved for the recreation side and 18,000 square feet for medical services.

"It was the city's request to place our emphasis on teens," Parks said. "There are little constructive, positive options for teens in Eaton — no movie theater, no indoor swimming pool, very few positive alternatives."

The YMCA is applying the concept of collaboration to its older building as well.

The Kettering Y recently formed a long-range agreement with the Christ Life Ministries church next door to provide child care for toddlers to school-age children in the church building, using YMCA staff.

"Even though we built the Kettering Y in 1963, we're still looking for partners," Parks said.

YMCA core programs include aquatics, aerobics, pre- and post-natal exercise, senior citizens' exercise, martial arts, adult sports, yoga, swimming, scuba, fitness evaluations and a variety of specialized youth and family activities.

Membership rates at the Ys hover around $30 a month for individuals and $40 a month for families, but the YMCA provides scholarships for those who are financially unable to cover the cost.

Even with all the balls Parks finds himself juggling now, he's searching for better ways to serve the communities of Montgomery, Preble and northern Warren counties.

"We will continue to see which areas are underserved and who we can partner with to meet those needs," Parks said.