Mar 31, 2009
Is planned fitness center the new Livingston County YMCA?
The recent news that the private Cleary University in Genoa Township is planning to build a $3 million 30,000-square-foot fitness center featuring aerobic exercise machines, climbing wall, basketball courts, racquetball court and a lounge area in a former plant/warehouse in a nearby industrial park in partnership with the Livingston County Family YMCA has left me more confused than anything.
Is this the YMCA building the community has hungered for since 1978, or is this a country club-type, for-profit fitness club? That seems to be unclear. According to the Daily Press & Argus, “Cleary President Tom Sullivan said, roughly $300,000 has been raised for the project, which would be a joint effort between Cleary and the Livingston County YMCA.” “The university would be responsible for building the fitness center, and the YMCA would operate the facility, according to Sullivan.”
“He said discussions began 18 months ago, and the university reached out to students and community recreation organizations on what they would want in the fitness center.”
I have been advocating for a YMCA since I moved back to the county in 2000 when I was a reporter, and I’m proud to say I had a very small, tiny hand in getting the effort off the ground. Cleary has been instrumental in the YMCA effort from day one, but I don’t understand the relationship, based on my great experience with the YMCA in the past.
I have been critical of Cleary in the recent past because of its embrace of hatemniongers like Ann Coulter, Steve Emerson and Dick Morris. But I have a long relationship with the school, and my late mother-in-law helped establish the Livingston County campus.
The Livingston County Family YMCA is an affiliate of the Metro Detroit YMCA. The YMCA is the largest not-for-profit service organization in the U.S., and the mission of the YMCA is “Putting Christian principles into practice through programs that build spirit, mind, and body for all.”
The Livingston County Family YMCA began very small back in 2000 when a group of five people did a feasibility study for their required public service project for Cleary’s Leadership Livingston class.
After gradating from the program, the group stayed together and continued the grassroots effort of establishing the YMCA, and that included forming several study committees, forming a board of directors. In 2003 the board decided to affiliate with the Metro Detroit YMCA instead of forming an independent YMCA. In January of 2006 the public portion of the Livingston County Family YMCA Founders Fundraising Campaign officially got under way. In August the board hired long-time supporter and founder Dawn Palmer-Van Camp as The Livingston County Family YMCA’s first Executive Director.
The YMCA requires three years of programs before it will allow any fundraising for a building, and programming began in late 2005 with youth sports. The YMCA has been visible at all of the county's festivals and other events, but there has not been a lot of news about the campaign.
Is the $300,000 raised that Sullivan talks about part of that building fundraising campaign? Is the fitness center the start of a building?