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The Suburbanite
  • Downtown Canton still needs a YMCA

  • OUR VIEW: Perhaps powers-that-be haven’t given up

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  • Maybe we are reading too deeply between the lines. But it sounds as if the powers-that-be have not given up entirely on giving downtown Canton its YMCA back.
    At least we hope there is reason for optimism. Whether it is in its former, century-old home or in a new building, a YMCA belongs downtown.
    Edwin Lair, president of the board of trustees of the YMCA of Central Stark County, told The Rep last week that the board is still open to all options. CEO Tim Shetzer said the board will decide before the end of the year what to do with the building on Second Street NW. Bids for the building and parking lot are due Wednesday.
    YMCA officials had been talking to developer and preservationist Steve Coon about his buying and refashioning much of the building into housing and letting the Y lease back some space. Then the board said last summer that there would be no deal. The building has been closed for more than a year. Coon says he’s still interested.
    The building had been running a deficit, but Lair said last week that a YMCA downtown would not have to break even, though it could not be “a significant drain year after year.” With community support behind a downtown YMCA — support that is encouraged by YMCA officials with a concrete plan — we don’t believe it would be a financial drain. A downtown Y would again serve Canton’s diverse needs, especially those of its children, better than any outlying Y can.
    Akron developer Joe Parsons, one of Coon’s partners, wondered aloud about the YMCA, “What is its mission?” Here it is, according to the YMCA of the USA: “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.”