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YMCA in Kansas City, Kan., will stay open

Updated: 2013-04-06T02:21:05Z

By KAREN DILLON

The Kansas City Star

The YMCA in downtown Kansas City, Kan., will remain open for a year with the help of Hollywood Casino revenue.

Meanwhile, both Raytown and Independence also have been in negotiations with the YMCA but have not reached a resolution.

The YMCA and the Unified Government worked out a deal Thursday night that requires the Kansas City, Kan., government to pay $100,000 for operations of the facility for the next year.

The $100,000 will come from casino revenue that had been earmarked for the city’s parks and recreation department, said city spokesman Edwin Birch.

“The benefits of the casino, that revenue, helped us basically fill in a gap that we didn’t know was coming,” Birch said Friday.

The money will be used to pay for operations and possibly maintenance on the 8th Street Family YMCA, Birch said. It also buys the city a year, and by next April officials hope to have a plan that will keep the Y’s doors open.

“We are grateful to the Unified Government for their financial investment so that together we can continue to serve the Kansas City, Kan., community,” said David Byrd, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Kansas City.

Last month, the YMCA announced it was closing three facilities in Kansas City, Kan., Independence and Raytown next Friday. It also announced plans to build a new YMCA at 10th Street and Grand Boulevard in downtown Kansas City.

Independence is moving in a different direction, officials there said Friday.

The Independence school district had attempted to buy the city’s YMCA, but Y officials said the district’s offer was not close to fair market value, so the Y said it will put the building on the market.

Eric Urfer, director of the Independence parks department, said the city, along with the school district, can pick up some programs the Y offered.

The parks department already offered similar programs at its three recreation centers. In addition, the city already planned to build a new general-purpose aerobic fitness area later this year. The completion date has been moved up.

The school district just renovated the Henley Aquatic Center and has expanded its hours and programs to accommodate members of the Y.

Questions remain in Raytown.

The Y acknowledged that its membership had declined to 1,000 from 2,000, resulting in $2.1 million in deferred maintenance.

Raytown officials said the Y wanted assurances that the city would take care of that maintenance, but the city did not think that was reasonable, said city spokeswoman Brenda Gustafson.

The city asked the Y to give it six months to see what its citizens wanted to do, but the Y said it could not afford to wait. In addition, the Y suggested the city subsidize memberships at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars over five years, Gustafson said.

To reach Karen Dillon, call 816-234-4430 or send email to kdillon@kcstar.com.

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