Youngstown YMCA seeks public input on possible western branch
By Ashley Luthern
The YMCA of Youngstown is considering opening a branch in western Mahoning County and is seeking public input.
Residents of Austintown, Canfield, Ellsworth Township, Jackson Township and Mineral Ridge are being asked to fill out an online survey, which takes about five to seven minutes to complete, said Timothy Hilk, YMCA of Youngstown president and chief executive.
The YMCA will use the information it gathers about membership, programming and priority needs to help determine the feasibility of an expansion, he said.
The YMCA operates a central branch downtown, the Davis Family YMCA in Boardman and Camp Fitch on Lake Erie.
“About a decade ago, when the Y was looking at a second branch, there was a significant amount of time spent in the Austintown area first, but then the opportunity presented itself to expand to Boardman. So now we’re going back to the western part of the county,” Hilk said.
Last May, a new strategic plan was unveiled for the YMCA that called for a re-dedication to the central branch. Hilk said a study is under way to determine how the Y can best expand services and programs downtown.
“But as we’ve looked at where our members currently come from for both downtown and Davis branches, we are not penetrating and serving northern Canfield, Austintown, North Jackson, Ellsworth, Mineral Ridge ...,” he added.
Before a location, facility size, budget and time line are determined, the Y must establish the types of services and programs a new branch would offer, Richard Hahn, chairman of the New Branch Advisory Committee, said in a news release.
Hilk said the Y does not have funding for a new branch facility at this time. The organization first must develop the branch’s concepts to estimate the cost of the project and then determine how to finance it.
“We’re still in the concept stage, and concept comes before capital,” he said.
The survey is at http://surveymonkey.com/s/8TBLWPQ and will be available until Nov. 2. The Y also will have focus groups. Any residents in those areas who want to be part of a focus group should contact the Y’s metro office at 330-744-8411.
“We’re excited about this opportunity to look at the concept, and for this to move forward we need the public input,” Hilk said.