College Station City Council members are interested in potentially welcoming a recreation center or YMCA into the community, but they said they need more information to continue the discussion and eventually may want voters to weigh in.
The discussion of introducing a YMCA or similar recreation center to College Station has been ongoing for years, and in the summer of 2019 the council directed city staff to research the possibility further. A survey was completed in February 2020, but the council didn’t talk about those results until this week since the topic was put aside as the community dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey, which included feedback from 600 randomly selected households in Brazos County, was presented to the council by Parks & Recreation Director Steve Wright. The survey found that 21% of respondents were already affiliated with a fitness center. When asked which of three locations they would prefer a YMCA be located at, near Stephen C. Beachy Central Park or by Fire Station 6 performed the best, with a location near Baylor Scott and White Hospital coming in third. Respondents also said they would be “moderately interested” in teen programs, soccer, an outdoor pool and programs for children and families.
Council members said that they wouldn’t want a pool in the facility, and that they want to ensure that programs are not duplicates of others in the community.
They also agreed that residents should vote on the matter. It has yet to be determined if the city would run a recreation center or if they would have YMCA manage a building that the city constructs.
Mayor Karl Mooney, who has looked into the possibility of a YMCA in College Station for years, agreed with other council members that more data was needed before any decisions are made. He added that things like basketball courts, indoor soccer fields, space for senior citizens and a place for moms to workout while their children are cared for are all things that community members ask for and could potentially be built into a recreation center.
“We’re getting to the point now where we are seeing the growth,” Mooney said, “and we are having people with expectations to have the same type of quality of life that they had elsewhere here in College Station, and we are falling a bit short right now.”
Councilwoman Linda Harvell said a new survey should be beneficial since so much has changed since the one the council reviewed this week was conducted. Councilman Bob Brick also supported the idea of making a new survey.
The number of people using various recreational resources such as the indoor courts at the Lincoln Center is an important part of the data that needs to be assessed in future talks about a YMCA, Councilman John Nichols said. Similarly, Councilwoman Elizabeth Cunha said that she wants to know more about if there are some programs that are not meeting the needs of the community right now.
Councilman Dennis Maloney said he thinks it is important to move forward with an indoor facility since it would be an amenity that would attract families and would by attractive options when people are trying to host events during the hot summer months.
Other information like the cost of having such an indoor facility and various ways that a recreation center could be run will be topics of discussion in the future. Councilman John Crompton said he supported the idea of a recreation center but the cost of building and running one was one of his main concerns.
Go to blog.cstx.gov to view Wright’s full presentation regarding the YMCA survey.