"Plans for 20,000 sq ft YMCA in Rockport Move Forward" | Article and 5 Photos by Jeanette Larson

The schematic for the originally planned 26,000 
square foot building is online click here.
Plans for an approximately 20,000 square foot YMCA in Rockport are moving forward slowly, but progress is in sight. At the committee meeting on Wednesday, March 1, Secretary Warren Hassinger shared a proposal to raise funds for salary and benefits to hire an Executive Director. The plan, to be tweaked and then approved in April, will seek $200 in pledges from 500 people. The Executive Director is critical to moving the project forward and pledges to pay that person's salary for two years will demonstrate buy-in from the community, according to Hassinger.

YMCA Committee Chair Eric Heller
The project began in 2014 as a grassroots effort to build a facility in Rockport that will be leased to the YMCA to operate. The facility will be located on Stadium Drive next to the community pool and aquatic center. The facility would include the community pool and, perhaps, the skate park. Much of the funding for the building will be provided by a city bond passed in 2007 for a recreation center, along with in-kind donations of building design services.

In other business, Rob Wiggins, President and CEO of the YMCA of the Coastal Bend, answered questions from the audience and discussed the mission and policies of the YMCA. Wiggins stated that the Y operates as a non-profit so while they can't lose money they don't have to make a profit.

Linda Valdez asks a question
Several people mentioned the desire to have a separate membership category for those who strictly want to use the pool. The perceived loss of the community pool has been a major concern for many pool users. While Wiggins and Chairman Eric Heller reiterated that nothing is set in stone and all ideas and policies are subject to contract negotiations, Wiggins stated that the Y prefers to minimize operating costs by limiting the points of entry to the facilities. He did say that day passes are typically sold and that they work to accommodate Winter Texans and others who are not permanent residents in the area. Another consideration for pool users is that most of the YMCAs, including the Corpus Christi facility, are open more hours allowing lap swimmers and exercisers to enter as early as 5:30 a.m.

Wiggins noted that it is the goal of the YMCA to "plus" what we already have in Rockport, not to change things. In planning for Rockport he used a pro-forma algorithm to look at drive distances and estimated that approximately 800 memberships are needed in Rockport. That number may be high but if the memberships don't provide sufficient funding, Wiggins noted that there are various revenue streams, including youth programs, grants, and fundraisers to keep the YMCA solvent.

Warren Hassinger explains pledge program
While, again, nothing is set in stone yet, Wiggins noted that the City of Rockport would, under the probable terms of the lease agreement, have no liability for any operating expenses or maintenance of the facilities. This is a huge issue for the city, which has been putting $90,000 a year into the pool. Although some funds for the pool also come from Fulton and Aransas County, those entities have generally reduced funding, leaving the main expenses to the city.

The schematic plan for a larger facility will be modified on a pro bono basis by building designer Mike Mahoney, who has also indicated that there are engineers and others willing to work to control costs for the facility, which will be owned by the City of Rockport and leased to the YMCA of Rockport. Wiggins assured the audience that fees would be less than those in Corpus Christi and are currently anticipated to start at about $30 a month for an individual. Membership categories include adult, senior, youth, family, couples, and more. The YMCA also provides support for low-income families to be able to join at reduced rates. All health and wellness programs are usually included in the basic fee with additional fees for special summer programs, programs that require uniforms or jerseys, and classes.

Rob Wiggins, President & CEO, YMCA of the Coastal Bend

If an Executive Director can be hired within the next six months, then additional funds can be raised, the facility design can be finalized, and initial bids can be obtained. The YMCA Committee meets the first Wednesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall and all are welcome to attend to hear about the plans and raise questions and concerns.

The schematic for the originally planned 26,000 square foot building is online click here.

Jeanette Larson is a retired librarian and author. She and her husband, retired architect and artist Jim Larson, moved to Rockport several years ago for the birds, the beach, and the coastal community.

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