Viewpoint: Barium Springs site is an ideal location for Iredell County Parks and Recreation
BY BETH JONES
Iredell County is excited to announce an expansion of recreational services to our community. In June the County became aware that the Barium Springs YMCA property, which includes the facility, pool and soccer field, was for sale.
To further their mission to serve children and families, Children’s Hope Alliance, which owns the property and has leased it to the YMCA since 2000, was looking to liquidate some of its assets. To honor the YMCA’s long-standing presence in the community, Children’s Hope Alliance approached the YMCA first to gauge their interest in either modifying the existing lease or purchasing the property. The Children’s Hope Alliance Board wanted to form a partnership, through this sale, with an entity that would continue to provide beneficial services to the community. Unfortunately, they were not able to come to terms on an acceptable arrangement with the YMCA.
Children’s Hope Alliance then approached various governmental entities in the area to explore their level of interest in this property. After Iredell County officials became aware of the opportunity to make a purchase of the Children’s Hope Alliance property, we put forward a proposal, which was accepted.
At the same time, the County was in the process of designing a large addition to the newly donated East Iredell Lions Club Facility to house the Parks and Recreation Offices. The funds were already budgeted in the 2017-2018 fiscal year budget in the amount of $570,000 for this addition. When we were approached by Children’s Hope Alliance, we carefully considered the opportunity this would give the County to provide additional services to our citizens. The property is centrally located in the heart of our County, making it a great location for our Parks and Recreation Offices. It would allow the County the opportunity to expand recreational services to include a fitness center, outdoor pool andadditional soccer field. It would address the space needs for the relocation of the Parks and Recreation Offices with minimal renovations. It would allow the East Iredell Lions Club Facility to be used as a community center similar to the Scotts Rosenwald Park. All of this could be accomplished with the same amount of funds already budgeted for the office addition.
After careful consideration, the County submitted a proposal that included three phases. The first phase would be the purchase of .83 acres on Grannis Lane, including the house adjacent to the fitness center property for $75,000. This would accommodate part of our Parks and Recreation Offices with the purchase occurring 90 days after an approved contract. The second phase would be the purchase of 18 acres to include the fitness center, pool and soccer field for $425,000 to occur after the December 31, 2018, expiration of the current lease and the start of the new calendar year in 2019. The third phase would involve the purchase of 18.28 acres located between the fitness center property and the Iredell County Fairgrounds for $165,000, which would occur in the budget year beginning July 1, 2019. This offer was approved by the Board of County Commissioners on August 21; yet, as contracted by lease, the YMCA had the right of first refusal on any offer to purchase the property currently under lease. Subsequently, the YMCA chose not to purchase the property.
Over the next few months the County will work diligently to prepare for this fitness facility to reopen as a County recreational facility and continue to provide those vital services to the community. We want to be a good neighbor and partner to Children’s Hope Alliance and the Town of Troutman by continuing to provide recreational services to the community. We are excited about this new opportunity and look forward to what the future holds for this facility. We will begin making needed renovations to the East Iredell Lions Club to open it as a community center and are currently creating a walking/nature trail on that property with the help of the Statesville Rotary Club, AARP and Get Fit Iredell.
It is our mission to provide exceptional public services in an efficient and cost-effective manner to position Iredell County as a premier community to live, work and raise a family and these projects are just a few more ways in which to accomplish that mission. We appreciate everyone’s support and patience as we work through this process and look forward to exciting beginnings in 2019.
Beth Jones is the Iredell County manager.