MUNCIE — The YMCA of Muncie wants to consolidate their two facilities into one by building and an entirely new facility. They have their sights set on the decades-old Tuhey Park as the location.
This proposal isn’t met without serious opposition from residents.
“The park serves the riverside normal city neighborhood and it also serves the old west end neighborhood,” said Beth Messner. She’s one of the dozens of Muncie residents that doesn’t want to see a new YMCA building at Tuhey Park.
“The green space itself is a very attractive feature of the park you find children flying kites kids running playing impromptu games of tag families picnicking,” said Messner, she’s the Treasurer for the neighborhood association.
As of right now, the YMCA has two locations in Muncie.
They want to consolidate those and make one new facility to serve the residents and members better.
I spoke with the president and CEO of the YMCA of Muncie, Chad Zaucha. He said the Y didn’t select this site because of their own interests.
He said they are willing to locate there because of the collective interests of the community.
“I think the future of our city of Muncie is dependent on sustaining and enhancing vitality downtown, so locating the YMCA at the city park is one of the most important strategies to achieve that vitality,” said Zaucha.
Leaders said the YMCA plans to keep the outdoor pool that already exists at Tuhey Park, but neighbors are concerned because the new building will take up a lot of this green space, something Mesner believes the city is already short of.
“As the 9th largest Second-Class city in Indiana, we already have less acreage of parkland for resident than any other Second-Class city in this state, and now we're looking at a city administration that seems to be strongly considering giving away parkland we can't afford to lose to a private entity well I shouldn't say giving away they're talking about leasing, but we don't know what that means,” said Messner.
Mayor Dan Ridenour said he urged the YMCA to find a downtown location with bus access so that more Muncie residents could utilize the space.
“It's right on one of those greenways in our city, so it fits well with the downtown development, and it fits, and their services are vital for our city,” said Mayor Ridenour.
Messner said she and other residents support the YMCA’s decision to consolidate and appreciate all the community's services. Still, they don’t think Tuhey Park is the answer.
“We have concerns about is taking away parkland in a city that already is depleted in parkland. And our huge concern about the privatization of public land that is opening a door that should never be opened,” said Messner.
Mayor Ridenour said this is still in the very early stages, and the conversations surrounding this plan have just begun.
A petition on saveTuhey.org has more than 1,400 signatures.
For more information on the plans and to see the YMCA’s full announcement click here.