Don’t let momentum falter in YMCA quest

The desire for a YMCA complex in Port Orchard seems to be on most everyone’s wish list, as it has been for years.


The desire for a YMCA complex in Port Orchard seems to be on most everyone’s wish list, as it has been for years.

Over the past decade, that desire has waxed and waned for various reasons. Three years ago, Mayor Tim Matthes and Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido queried local residents with a survey to gauge area interest in the idea of pursuing either a YMCA or some other community center to serve city residents. But with the economy then still on life support, and government and corporate sponsorship money just a pipe dream at the time, moving forward with such an effort was unrealistic.

The good news is that the tide appears to be turning.

Thanks to an initiative by local residents AnnaLee Todd and Andrea McDonald, the idea today seems much more realistic. The women have been active participants in discussions to once again get the initiative before government and corporate leaders.

The first step needed is funding for a feasibility study to be done by the YMCA. Kitsap County and Commissioner Garrido have pledged $10,000 toward the $25,000 needed to fund the study. Harrison Medical Center and the South Kitsap School District have expressed an interest in being part of a partnership testing the plan’s viability.

The commissioner does have a condition built into the county’s $10,000 study pledge, however: all community center options, including the Y, would be on the table.

By getting these proverbial ducks in a row — government, corporate and private — Port Orchard could be on its way toward creating a significant civic amenity that would draw new residents considering a move to the area. Families seeking good schools for their children, affordable housing and a healthy lifestyle also include recreation, fitness and community educational opportunities as significant considerations in making their decision.

Much needs to happen before a YMCA project — or some other community center — is given the green light. But that first step needs to be taken.

With committed partners behind the study, our area and its leaders will be able to find out just how feasible this wish-list item is.

Port Orchard’s city government should take the first step in concert with its community partners and commit to help fund this study. The costs are minimal in the grand scheme of things, after all. The city’s portion? A $5,000 share of a $25,000 study.

At the end of the City Council’s study session last week in which the request for funding was debated, council members and the mayor hesitated. Matthes ended the discussion by saying, “We’re not out, we’re not in.” Their consensus? More information and time to digest it was needed.

Fair enough. Our leaders are being cautious and mindful of taxpayer dollars, as well as in biting off more than the city can chew. But absent red flags, let’s not dither. Momentum shouldn’t be allowed to falter as it has so many times in the past.

It’s time to get the data and find out if this grand wish-list item can become a reality.