New lease between YMCA and high school moves new Y closer
The YMCA will move one step closer to its goal of building a new facility when a lease is signed between members of the Y board and Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) on Monday at 6:45 pm.
The lease outlines the terms of the agreement between the YMCA and the MVRHS in which the Y will lease land for its proposed 40,000-square-foot facility in exchange for 356 hours of access per year to its competition-sized swimming pool as the equivalent of rent. The new facility will be located across the street from the high school on five acres next to the MV Ice Arena and behind the skateboard park.
The lease to be signed on Monday actually is an update of an earlier version between the high school and the Martha's Vineyard Aquatic Center, which became a charter ship of the YMCA in 2002. The terms of the new lease will remain much the same, with mentions of the aquatic center changed to the YMCA.
"What we've done is make some adjustments to the parameters around the YMCA's future expansion plans," explained Attorney Michael Dutton, YMCA secretary and personnel committee chairman, who will be drafting the lease.
"What the high school has asked us to do is come back to them with some way of notifying them when we enter into the second and third phase of the building project and negotiate some favorable rates for the high school kids," Mr. Dutton said, for features such as a climbing wall or bowling alley, for example.
The term of the lease proposed between the YMCA and the high school was for 75 years. However, under Massachusetts state statutes, municipalities are not allowed to lease municipal property for more than five years. This required the high school to get legislative approval to extend the lease beyond what the state statute allows.
The lease between the Y and MVRHS first was examined by the state Inspector General's office and state Attorney General's offices, then went to a committee in the state legislature for a hearing. A bill was then drafted and approved by both houses, and on July 26, Governor Mitt Romney signed the bill into law.
With the legislative process complete, once the new lease is signed the YMCA board can move forward, with plans for groundbreaking in the fall of 2007.
"We wouldn't be where we are if it wasn't for superintendent Jim Weiss's office, [MVRHS principal] Peg Regan's office, and the school committee," said YMCA president Chuck Hughes. "That's how the project started, with their initial support."
The Y facility will be built in two phases, the first to construct a new main building that will include an indoor aquatic center, teen center, Island Council on Aging Supportive Day Care, sports arena and gymnasium, wellness center, dance and aerobics studio, and café.
In addition to collaboration on programs with the Island's Councils on Aging, the YMCA is discussing collaboration with Martha's Vineyard Hospital in providing programs for warm water and aquatic therapy, physical rehabilitation, cardiac wellness, and sports medicine.
"It would be a wise move for both the hospital and the YMCA, because it puts each in the position to utilize space more efficiently," Mr. Dutton said. "We've been adamant that if the Y fits into the community at all, it will fit in as a collaborative agency, rather than one size fits all."
Mr. Hughes said the new Y facility's warm water therapy pool will offer the opportunity to work with the hospital's staff in creating a good physical therapy and physical rehabilitation program. "It's a program Y's have done with hospitals around the country, not unique to Martha's Vineyard," Mr. Hughes said. "We can take an existing program we know works in other communities, bring it to the Island, and see if it works here. If not, we'll make the appropriate changes."
A YMCA task force also has been working on identifying specific Island needs and programs to support those needs.
With the legislative issues resolved on the lease, Mr. Hughes said he feels good about the YMCA's progress on the building project in general. "I feel we have a lot of work to do in the next year, but it's work that I feel very confident that, one, we have the support of a majority of the public behind us, and two, it's work that we know how to do and it's just a matter of getting it done," he said.
In addition to the YMCA's task force, since last January, representatives of the Y and all of the other properties located along the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road corridor near the high school have been working on a "campus planning project" under the direction of the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC).
The informal working group was formed after a high school area community planning session held on a Saturday morning last January by the Oak Bluffs board of selectmen and planning board in cooperation with the MVC. The event brought together people involved in area facilities and properties near the high school, members of organizations and town boards, and members of the general public.
Forum participants brainstormed many ideas for linking the new YMCA, MV Ice Arena, skateboard park, Woodside Village, the Vineyard Transit Authority, and MV Community Services. The informal working group that formed after the forum took all of the ideas and has been working for several months on finalizing an area site plan for presentation to the boards of the various facilities involved.
"The idea of all of the abutters in the area getting together and looking at the properties as a campus makes a lot of sense, in terms of shared parking, pathways, and landscaping," said YMCA board member Cindy Doyle.
Linking facilities together through an area plan offers many advantages for the public, explained MVC executive director Mark London. "It would create a community and recreational campus for the whole Island, where a parent could drop off one kid to play hockey and one to swim at the YMCA, and then perhaps sit in the Y's café drinking coffee until time to pick them up an hour later."