After 10 years of on-again off-again negotiations, Queen Anne’s County deeded about 18.6 acres of land, across the street from Queen Anne’s County High School, to the YMCA of the Chesapeake for the purpose of having a YMCA with a pool to be constructed there.
According to the November 24, deed transfer the YMCA has 10 years to apply for a building permit and start construction. However, Commissioner Steve Wilson, the only commissioner to vote against the transfer of land, said the YMCA should have a facility built and open to the public within 10 years. He said this is an issue of whether in 10 years there is a permit issued or whether people are actually swimming.
Robbie Gill, director of the YMCA of the Chesapeake, said, “We’ve raised zero dollars at this point because until the land was in hand and we could go to our donors and say ‘100 percent this thing is going to get done’ we were afraid to ask for money. Because if we had done that (ask for money from donors) 8 years ago, 6 years ago, four years ago we would have had to give that money back and that would have killed that project.”
Gill said that when donors give money and a project goes through starts and stops “you get donor fatigue.” He said with the land transfer completed, the YMCA will begin their fund raising efforts.
Commissioner Mark Anderson asked, “What is the time frame, once you have the funds in hand and a shovel goes into the ground – how long do you think it will take before we have a usable structure.”
Gill said the project will not be done all at once but will be built in phases with the pool being given priority. Gill said that while the total project is expected to cost between $8 to $10 million, construction of the aquatic center and program spaces could begin once $4.5 to $5 million is raised. The other phases will come later.
Commissioner Robert Buckey said he was pleased an agreement had been struck so the project can move forward. “This is beneficial to both the Y and the county,” he said.
Gill said, “This could be a transformational moment for this community. I am so grateful for the efforts of these commissioner and the efforts you have put into this to date.”