For the past several months, there have been numerous issues brought forth concerning the Benjamin Barnes YMCA in West Tuscaloosa, the greatest of these being the condition of the facility.

It is common knowledge that there is an entirely new YMCA facility in downtown Tuscaloosa, but what many DON’T know is that BOTH YMCA branches are governed by the same Board of Directors.

In addition, it is said that the YMCA organization has struggled to pay the loan of the newly built downtown facility. Because of the debt, no capital campaigns or major fundraisers could be organized to fund a new Barnes Facility.

Recently, the YMCA went to the City of Tuscaloosa for help. According to those close to the situation, the organization is asking the City to pay its $1.5 million debt. In exchange, the city would be purchasing BOTH YMCA facilities. The downtown facility is believed to appraise at nearly double or more than $1.5 million. The city would be getting its money worth in the downtown facility alone.

So why is Barnes included in these discussions? It is common knowledge that the Downtown YMCA resides on City land with a mortgaged facility. The Barnes facility and land is fully owned by the YMCA. Again, why is Barnes being considered in this deal?

Be noted, the talks going forth are between the Executive Committee of the Board and the City only. No official agreement has been presented to the full YMCA Board. However, if this potential agreement is voted upon and all are in favor, this proposal will go to the Tuscaloosa City Council. It will need 4 votes to pass.

The Benjamin Barnes Advisory Council states they have had no involvement or input in the decision making of this process. They notified the Executive Committee that they would like the Barnes Branch to be excluded from being purchased. They further recommended that the YMCA organization start a capital campaign in 2021 to raise funds for the building of a new Barnes.

So what happens if Barnes is owned by the city? Can the Barnes facility be operating in its condition under the ownership of the city? Will the city build a new Barnes? Will the YMCA build a new Barnes? These are the questions which need to be answered for the community.

Why is there a new facility downtown while the building which serves the West Tuscaloosa community is in shambles?  Are there plans to build a new Barnes YMCA?

Check out this episode of Kitchen Table Conversations where Barnes Advisory Council  members discuss the latest developments between the City of Tuscaloosa and the YMCA.

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