Effingham / Statesboro News
Savannah Business Journal Staff Report
September 28, 2016 - Representatives from the YMCA of Coastal Georgia Association in Savannah have entered into a lease agreement with the owners of the property where the old Sallie Zetterower school was located on East Jones Avenue at Gentilly Road in Statesboro.
It is the YMCA’s intention to work with community leaders to raise support to open a YMCA in the near future that will serve Statesboro.
Over the past several years, local leaders in the Statesboro community have been working with the YMCA of Coastal Georgia to explore the possibility of the YMCA opening a branch in the Statesboro area, according to the YMCA’s leadership. A community interest survey was conducted in the summer of 2014 which indicated a strong need for a YMCA and a high level of interest and ability to open a Y in Statesboro.
This past spring, the land and buildings that make up the old Sallie Z. School campus were considered as the possible location for a YMCA. The combination of the unique location in a neighborhood setting with great accessibility, over eight acres of usable land and fifty thousand square feet of indoor space were the perfect fit for the YMCA, they state.
Working with representatives of the current owners of the property, the YMCA of Coastal Georgia was able to negotiate a long term, land lease that spans a 99-year time period. The arrangement provides the YMCA with permanency and a place to serve the community now and for generations to come, they add.
Plans for the YMCA include preserving some of the history of the school itself, and honoring the legacy of the students and teachers who once walked the halls.
“While we’ve conducted the necessary market studies and demographic analysis [to bring a YMCA to Statesboro] and place value in the results. The commitment exhibited by volunteers and officials involved with the project is an equally important indicator of future success,” according to Joel Smoker, president and CEO of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia.
“I’ve been nothing less than impressed with the folks I’ve met and their willingness to help. We plan to provide the Statesboro community with a YMCA everyone is proud to have. We are thankful to the leaders involved for having the vision to connect the YMCA to the school property – it will allow us to focus on our Mission work far sooner than I ever expected,” he added.
The YMCA of Coastal Georgia leadership is working with local volunteers to begin to raise the initial funds to open the doors of the YMCA and get the operation started. A Founder’s Campaign will soon be underway and will give community members the opportunity to become the founding donors and partners and be a part of the future of the Statesboro YMCA.
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