Today is Monday, August 21, 2017

'Y' not: MJ building plans canceled

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MT. JULIET -- North Mt. Juliet will not be getting the new YMCA that had been proposed for it, according to Jessica Fain, senior vice president at Middle Tennessee YMCA. However, the YMCA plans to maintain or even expand its presence in the city, she added.

“Although it’s not likely that we will further develop the property on Lebanon Road, we will continue to work toward expansion in Mt. Juliet,” Fain said.

She also said the YMCA’s leadership team “did recently decide to explore selling the property we acquired on Lebanon Road while we consider other options for expansion.”
Construction of a new YMCA on Mt. Juliet’s north side has been contingent on a fundraising campaign which, according to Fain, “has never really gotten out of the early stages.”

The approximately 55-acre property originally belonged to the Jack E. Casey, Peggy Chandler and Evans Chandler Trust. The YMCA bought 14.25 acres and the trust donated the other 40.85 acres.

Fain said there was no provision for the donated portion to revert to the trust or any other community entity in the event the YMCA decided not to build there, and representatives of the Chandler Trust could not be reached for comment,

The property in question is located in City Commission District 1. “It’s just across the creek from the Little League field,” explained the district’s commissioner, Ray Justice. “I’m disappointed, but I hope this will bring an opportunity for something else.”

The land also is attached to the city’s planned greenway, Justice said.

Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin said the YMCA is undergoing some restructuring, but intends to continue to provide services at its current location in Mt. Juliet.

“The current YMCA location is doing quite well,” he said. “It is my understanding the YMCA is still looking to enhance its services in Mt. Juliet and Wilson County at some point in the future.”

Fain confirmed Martin’s appraisal of the situation, explaining, “There are no specific plans for a new Y at this time, but we have very recently conducted some additional market research to test the demand for a facility in other locations, perhaps as a build-to-suit lease option, which may prove to be more financially feasible and would not require as much capital fundraising.”

Nothing new is in the works immediately, Fain said, but not only is the YMCA still interested in Mt. Juliet, it intends to maintain its current presence in the city as well.

“There are no specific plans for such a facility at this time,” she explained, referring to the YMCA’s hopes to expand in Mt. Juliet, “but we will be exploring that option in the coming year and will continue to serve our members at the storefront facility on Mt. Juliet Road.”

Like Martin and Justice, Mayor Ed Hagerty also said he’s sorry to hear the YMCA is not planning to build on Lebanon Road, a project that has been central to development in that section of town ever since the project was first proposed in 2011.

But Hagerty added, “I’m looking forward to hearing about their plans for land use or expanding their existing center.” Currently, the YMCA operates out of a storefront in the Valley Center shopping center on North Mt. Juliet Road.

Justice said he hopes things will turn around in the next year or two, and the YMCA will reconsider. “They’ve always been good community partners,” he said.

Meanwhile, the city’s efforts to enhance the North Side community, even without the addition of a new YMCA, will continue, Justice added. “We’re doing everything we can to improve the area,” he said.

Likewise, Fain said community members and other YMCA supporters are committed to expanding in Mt. Juliet some way or another, and she’s very appreciative of their efforts, too.

“We’re extremely grateful for the dedicated volunteers who have worked for a number of years to bring a larger YMCA to their community,” she said, “and we will continue working together with them as we consider other alternatives for expansion.”

Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@yahoo.com.

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