Village and YMCA reach agreement on programs at Vaughn E. Hairston Center

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By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

A facility usage agreement has been reached between the village of Urbancrest and the YMCA of Central Ohio.

At its meeting on Oct. 12, village council approved a leasing agreement that will allow the association to operate several youth development programs at the Vaughn E. Hairston Community Center during regular school hours.

According to Urbancrest Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr., the YMCA will operate Head Start from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; After School Child Care from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and the Positive Alternative Learning for Students (PALS) program from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Unlike the facility usage agreements of the past, most recently the management agreement reached between the village and YMCA in 2018, the YMCA will only oversee the youth development programs.

“They will simply be leasing certain portions of the facility for specific programs,” said village law director Rodd Lawrence.

Under the terms of the one-year agreement, the YMCA will pay the village a fee of $48,000 for the use of the facility.

Lawrence said the YMCA will not have access to the fitness room but they will be allowed to access to the gymnasium on a limited basis. The YMCA will also be allowed to use the kitchen area to make breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the children, and they will have exclusive use of one office within the building.

Councilman Steven Larkins was on the advisory committee that helped shape this new agreement. He said he is glad this portion of the facility’s usage has been determined.

“I think both sides are satisfied with the agreement,” he stated after the meeting. “I don’t think we got everything we wanted and I don’t think they got everything they wanted. But we negotiated in good faith and I think everyone is happy with it.”

He said the next step in the process is to get the community back into the facility so they can access health and wellness programs.

“We have to get some new management in there, and the committee has come up with new programs during our research that we would like to try to implement,” said Larkins. “We are not there yet, but that will be addressed at our next committee meeting.”

Until COVID-19 started to spread throughout the country last year, the YMCA had been managing both youth development programs and health and wellness programs for all ages at the facility. According to YMCA officials, they could no longer sustain regular operations at the Vaughn E. Hairston Community Center due to financial losses caused by the pandemic.

The village is currently seeking non-exclusive lease agreements with other parties for the use of the facility, said Lawrence.

He said thus far, the village has received interest from schools for the use of the aquatics facility but no official agreement has been reached.

Barnes said while he is also eager to welcome the community back into the facility, there has to be a thorough inspection of the premises by structural engineers.

“I spoke with them today but they didn’t give me a date (for when they can come out and inspect the property),” said Barnes. “But I look forward to hearing from them in the near future.”

The leasing agreement between the village and the YMCA was unanimously approved by the council. Though she did vote to accept the terms of the agreement, councilwoman Alicia Wiggins said she had reservations about the 4: 30 p.m. end time of the after school child care program.

“Some parents do not get off of work until 6 p.m.,” she said.

She asked council to consider requesting that time be modified during future negotiations.

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