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Other cities around Missouri similar in size to Richmond are finding success with YMCA using different approaches.
Park Board Member Mark Sowder has spent some time investigating how different cities use or don’t use a YMCA to operate recreation programs. Some communities use a hybrid system where the YMCA operates a portion of the recreation programs, and municipalities or private groups operate other programs.
For instance, Sowder found out that Brookfield (4,769), offers all programs through YMCA except baseball and softball. Brookfield also operates an outdoor pool.
The city of Marshall (12,213) also operates baseball and softball programs while a private group runs the soccer program. YMCA picks up the rest of the programs.
Other cities operate all recreation programs through YMCA. The city of Macon (5,461) operates no recreation programs. All of the city’s programs operate through the YMCA, which is what Richmond is studying. Sowder said the director at Cameron (9,124) told him that YMCA would be a good fit for a city like Richmond. YMCA operates Cameron’s recreation programs for them.
The city of Chillicothe (8,688) does not operate recreation programs, according to Parks and Recreation Director Ron Krammes. Krammes said the city maintains and preps ballfields and facilities, but does not handle any of the recreation programs and said it works well for his city.
“We don’t get too much negative feedback,” Krammes said. “Everything has its glitches here and there, but it seems to work fine.”
Krammes said he doesn’t have the staff to operate recreation programs. He said the YMCA in the city is self-sustaining, but still operates some programs with the city like an Easter Egg Hunt and a Fourth of July 10K run.
Officials with the city of Richmond began meeting with representatives of YMCA more than a year ago to gauge interest and viability of bringing the program to Richmond.
In the last few months talks between city officials, park board members, business leaders, private citizens and the YMCA have become more frequent as the city council looks for solutions to bring down the cost of the recreation department without compromising programming.
Sowder said YMCA officials have told the city that the YMCA could handle any programs the city currently has with current facilities that are available.
For instance, Brookfield this month has sports programming in addition to things like martial arts classes, Pilates classes and kickboxing.
Sowder said that each community wants different programming from a YMCA and that local programming is decided by local boards.