Walton YMCA could be ready by end of 2022

On track to break ground by the end of this year or first quarter of 2022

Walton YMCA leadership members say the effort to bring a YMCA to Walton County is not only up and running, it is on track to break ground by the end of this year or early next year. The plan is also for it to be open by the end of 2022. And the good news, the funding for the pool is already pledged.

Ben Garrett, executive director of Walton County Health Care Foundation, is also co-chair of the Walton County Campaign Leadership Council along with former Walton County School superintendent Gary Hobbs. After seeing the health benefits as well as financial benefits that a YMCA and the pool that goes along with it, Garrett has pledged the funding from the Walton County Health Care Foundation that will cover the cost of the pool.

With six high schools in the area with swim teams, the potential is not only to have a pool for swimmers to train, there is also the opportunity to host swim meets which will bring revenue to the YMCA as well as to the community.

Garrett, Hobbs and other members of the YMCA Leadership Council, along with Jeff Neufeld, VP of First Community Development that is raising funds for the venture, have been giving updates to the cities to solicit their support. They were in Monroe to give presentation at the Monroe City Council Tuesday, outlining the benefits to the community of the YMCA, the need for continued financial support for the project, and the progress to date.

“This is the most exciting development that has come to Monroe in my lifetime,” Neufeld said.

Of the $15 million required, $5 million has already been raised. They are however, hoping to raise up to $20 million to have money in the bank to help fund scholarships for several years for those in the community who may not be in a financial position to pay for membership. A partnership also is being formed with the Boys and Girls Club of Walton County.

Hobbs outlined what a YMCA will do for the community.

“I have a soft spot in my heart for kids, especially low income kids. We have almost 100,000 people in Walton County and no place for the kids to learn to swim. The Boys and Girls Club has no facility. The children of Walton County need to have a place to learn to swim,” Hobbs said.

The plan is for every child in Walton County to have a place to learn how to swim.

“Seniors too, I also think about them perhaps because I am one of them. Many have lost a spouse. I see them drinking coffee or in the workout area,” Hobbs said, adding he had taken a tour of the YMCA in Winder and was amazed at the services it provides to the community. “I encourage anybody to go to Winder. I never had any idea that the Y did so many things. It is a family place too. Think about the moms who are trapped at home. They will be able to have childcare there. There will be somebody certified to watch the kids while they work out. There is also the summer day camps.”

There also is the economic impact to the area. The Walton County YMCA will bring eight full-time jobs and 75 – 100 part-time jobs, especially for young lifeguards and for day camps.

Although the promises to bring a YMCA have been heard for a long time, in fact since before the recession of 2008, it looks like finally it is set to become a reality. A new sign has gone up on the 38-acre property that was donated by the Rowell family on the connector between Charlotte Rowell Blvd and Double Springs Church Road, and the project is well on its way.

For more information on the people involved with the project, how you can support the effort, and to follow the progress of the Walton County YMCA, like the Facebook page and take a look at the video outlining the vision.

Also look for an in-depth look at the Walton County YMCA and how it will benefit the community in health, recreational and economic opportunity in the upcoming 2021 Spring-Summer issue of Walton Living Magazine.

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