On Wednesday night Aug. 28, a small gathering of over 35 people arrived at Greenfield Training and Education Center to hear the results of market research concerning a YMCA coming to Daleville Town Center. The answer is, “It ‘s a go forward– proceed to the next level.”
John Alderson who spearheads the campaign locally, introduced the program for the night. YMCA President and CEO Mark Johnson spoke to the YMCA involvement. Phil Balducci of PB&A Marketplace Intelligence explained the expansion research data. “Proceed with caution to the next level” was the final remark of the night. The next level will be the determination of cost to build what Botetourt County said it wants.
Here are some highlights of the meeting.
Balducci said their market research has never been wrong in the over 20 years he has been in the business. The research shows Botetourt County wants the YMCA. He defined three areas: What Botetourt County said it wants in a YMCA facility. How many are willing to pay to become a YMCA member here. Perception of the real impact of new YMCA programs and facilities.
The group of ages 45 and under with children had the highest level of desire to see the YMCA built.
Who took the survey? 400 telephone interviews with land line owners who are not current YMCA members any where else filled the research pool. And, an informal meeting with leaders of the community back in the winter lead to the formation of the study. Buchanan Supervisor candidate and a former Botetourt County administrator, John Williamson pressed Balducci to explain the parameters of the study.
The error margin range was plus or minus 5%. All data from phone interviews was conducted in June and July. The out come. 71% or 7 out of 10 respondents were interested in joining the YMCA should it come to Botetourt County. A C- but it equated into 10% penetration at Family memberships at rates of $87 per month ( see photo) that would bring in 1329 members or at $77 per family rate it equaled 16% penetration rate and 2,068 initial members. The normal penetration rate in a community that builds a YMCA is 5%. The monthly payment figures are estimated.
John Felts a local business owner wanted to now what the YMCA had to offer that the BAC did not “just five minutes away.” Balducci and Johnson both answered. Simply the YMCA is not just a fitness center, but a community based program with a fitness and pool component. Johnson said, ” The YMCA does much more than create a place for swim and exercise, we are program based and are part of the community.” The YMCA does provide financial discounts and scholarships as well that other providers in the fitness industry do not.
The I-81 barrier is also important for consideration Balducci noted as often citizens do not travel beyond the intersection into the southern end of the county. With construction to begin in the next two years on the Exit 150 interchange improvements, that will likely become more pronounced.
What Botetourt County said it wants in a YMCA:
An indoor pool for lap swimming, instruction, exercise and recreation.
Warm water therapy pool
Multiple exercise studios
A state of the art fitness center
Injury/disease prevention and recovery programs
Best-in -class personal trainers.
Johnson said, “Pools are expensive to operate.” In the study however, without the pools, interest dwindled. Both high schools are very interested in the pool aspect for their swim teams. Kit Williams, coach of JRHS swim team, Dr. Tony Brads and Alderson who is a school board member from Fincastle were on hand from Botetourt County School Division. Besides candidate Williamson, Todd Dodson also a candidate for Amsterdam District, Fincastle Supervisor Jack Leffel, Terry Austin, Buchanan Supervisor running for 19th District and County Administrator Kathleen Guzi were in the assembly.
Johnson told the group that the next step is to come back with “what it looks like and how much it will cost.” He anticipated that would occur within the next two months. When pressed on funding, he stated a capital campaign likely with 30-40 large donors would fund 80% of the cost of the proposed YMCA.