For years a debate has waged — does this community need a YMCA? Who should pay for it, and just how do we want to handle recreational services?
Lines have been drawn, and camps created. It’s not quite the civil war, but the divide in the community is deep. In both camps — those seeking to preserve the current Newton Recreation Commission and Newton Activity Center, and those seeking to bring the YMCA to town — there have been people working in the background with hidden (and not-so-hidden) agendas.
One of those folks working in the background, though with no real hidden agenda, is city commissioner Glen Davis. He’s been unabashed in his support of the current NRC. He believes the NRC needs to survive, even if there is enough private funds to bring the Greater Wichita YMCA to Newton. He believes, and very likely correctly so, that bringing in the YMCA and shutting down the current NRC will leave some out in the cold.
This last week our resident “renegade” commissioner did something that deserves praises from everyone. He took the bull by the horns, and wrote a letter to the leadership of the YMCA — he didn’t point fingers or tell the YMCA they were not welcome here. He did, however, invite the YMCA to the table to start talking with the NRC and the community of Newton.
If both of those groups are to serve our needs, those groups need to communicate.
“I have come to the conclusion the reason nothing has been acted on is that there is a division among the Commissioners and among the public as to the advantages and disadvantages of the Recreation Center renovations and/or building a YMCA.”
Those words are very true. For nearly seven years this discussion has been going on. It’s time everyone get to the table and start really talking —and talking about the nuts and bolts Who will handle aquatics? Who will handle youth sports? Who will maintain public athletic facilities? Until the YMCA and NRC have those discussion — and those groups are the ones who should be having those discussions — don’t expect a whole lot of action.
Davis said it best. And he says something else that’s true as well.
“There is no trust left.”
He’s right. Too many secret agendas. Too many overtures. Too much getting the cart before the proverbial horse. It’s our belief having the leadership of the YMCA and the NRC hammer out some details and agreements is the best way to go — and honestly, the city commission needs to allow for that without their intervention. Davis did the right thing by getting those talks started. Now the commission needs to sit back and observe — they need to encourage the Y and the Rec to talk. There are things the YMCA will not want — they will not make financial sense to them, programs they have not had success with in the past. Same is true for the Rec. the Y and the Rec are the experts in offering recreational services. Let those two groups talk about who they want to serve, and how they can best work together to serve the community.
— Kansan editorial board