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November 21, 2022
For Immediate Release
Contact: Crystal S. Campbell || Public Information Officer
[email protected] || (734) 478-1856
FUNDING MOVES FORWARD FOR EASTERN COUNTY RECREATION ANDCOMMUNITY CENTER
Washtenaw County, MI – For more than 10 years, Washtenaw County has made attempts to develop a recreation center in the eastern region of the county. Last night, the Board of Commissioners took a major step forward in $7,000,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) lost revenue dollars towards such a project. The Board unanimously moved the allocation through first reading, which proposes to acquire a site, demolish the existing structure and begin construction on a new facility at the location of the decommissioned Cheney Elementary School.
“What we envision and what we said ‘yes” to, is a full-service YMCA and Community Center in the eastern region of Washtenaw County.” , said Sue Shink, Board Chair, “We want to see a facility that provides a truly holistic approach to wellness, and that vision is aligned with the mission of the YMCA. We want to see a facility that is affordable and accessible to our residents, all of our residents.”
In September, after months of meetings with community partners, the County signed a letter of intent to purchase the site with Ypsilanti Community Schools. Purchase of the site would alleviate over $860k in bond debt for the district, relieving the tax burden for residents. An extensive and robust community engagement process is planned so that community members can help shape the building design and operational framework of the facility. Commissioner Justin Hodge, Caroline Sanders, and Ricky Jefferson joined county staff as active participants in these meetings.
“This entire process will take place WITH the community, not on BEHALF of community.”, shared Commissioner Ricky Jefferson, District 6, “We must make good on this promise we made to the community back in 2011. We owe it to our residents to LISTEN to them, to INCLUDE them in every step of the process. This is more than a conversation. This means that a community will survive and thrive and live.”
The $7M investment, should it be approved for final reading at their December 7th meeting, will be combined with $3.5M from the Parks and Recreation Commission (PaRC) and $3M in HUD Community Project Fund grant dollars, secured by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell to support the project.
“We are excited to work with our partners to bring this long-time goal to fruition,” says Gregory Dill, County Administrator. “We have committed partners in the Ann Abor YMCA, Ypsilanti Community Schools, the local municipal boards from Superior and Ypsilanti Townships and in our state and federal lawmakers. The community has our ear and our financial commitment. We are in a good place to make this happen for our residents.”
Earlier in the meeting, there was extensive public comment about this item, with many residents expressing excitement about this potential project and the impact it would have, particularly for youth in the community. In response to some commenters expressing the importance of ensuring that the eventual facility serving as a community space that is affordable and accessible to all area residents, Commissioner Katie Scott proposed an amendment that ensures these principles are prioritized in this process. This amendment was approved with unanimous support.
To read more about the Eastern County Recreation and Community Center investment, you may review the item materials in the Board’s public agenda packet.