The Suburbanite
  • New YMCA proposed for downtown Canton

  • Plans are in the works for a new downtown YMCA. The project would blend renovated portions of the existing YMCA building with new construction. A fund-raising campaign would seek $4.5 million to make the proposal a reality. The new facility would be named after Eric Snow, a Canton native and former NBA player.

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  • The YMCA of Central Stark County is proposing a new downtown $5.2 million facility.
    The project would blend a renovated portion of the existing YMCA building with new construction, according to a YMCA executive summary document.
    City Council approved an informal resolution Monday night in support of the YMCA project.
    The next step in the plan will be to get the approval of local foundations for the project, said Tim Shetzer, YMCA chief executive officer. A fundraising campaign would seek roughly $4.5 million, including contributions from foundations, individuals and corporations, he said.
    A $711,000 grant has been awarded for the project through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, Shetzer said. The project would include a swimming pool, kid zone, fitness area, gym, locker rooms, baby-sitting area, handball and racquetball court and other program areas, Shetzer said.
    The proposed 34,000-square-foot facility would be called the Eric Snow YMCA. Snow is a Canton native and former NBA player who played with the Cleveland Cavaliers before retiring.
    “The youth of Canton need a YMCA facility they can call home,” the executive summary says. “The YMCA building must be right-sized, energy efficient and sustainable. This program facility would be centrally located and considered ‘neutral’ ground open and operated for all youth throughout the city.”
    A new downtown YMCA would be owned and operated by the agency, Shetzer said.
    The downtown YMCA building closed in 2008. The structure at 405 Second St. NW is more than 100,000 square feet and nearly 100 years old. “It was too big and too energy inefficient to be sustained going forward,” the executive summary says.
    “Canton, it’s the largest city in Stark County, and it doesn’t have a Y,” Shetzer said Monday. “Canton needs the Y, and the kids need the Y.”
    Added to the building in 1972, the former gym and swimming pool area would be renovated, according to the executive summary. The renovations would follow the recommendations of a 2008 study. A newly constructed 18,000-square-foot area would be connected to the renovated area.
    “This plan will improve the design and flow of the facility by eliminating the many different floor levels, ramps and columns in the current structure,” the summary says.
    Some sections of the building would be demolished. The nine-story tower also might be razed. The tower used to provide temporary housing for men in need of shelter. Attempts have been made to sell the tower, but the offers have been too low, Shetzer said.
    Under the plan, Snow, who now works as an NBA television analyst, would help with the fundraising campaign, Shetzer said. Raising $4.5 million would take 12 months, Shetzer estimated.
    Page 2 of 2 - Snow has expressed “an interest that Canton, Ohio, needs a modern, up-to-date YMCA like all the cities he travels to in his work,” Shetzer said. “He wants to give back to the community that helped him throughout his life.”

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