CHERAW - The debate over building a wellness center or a new YMCA facility is no longer an issue.
This decision was made about five days after CEO James Ward sent a letter to Cheraw town council stating the YMCA of the Upper Pee Dee will not be coming to Cheraw and wished to withdraw from their proposal.
Cheraw council reviewed Ward's request and Mayor Andy Ingram made the statement that the bulk of the money to build the wellness center will have to come from the town's hospitality tax fund. "Powell is asking that this commitment to be budgeted from the town's hospitality tax fund," said Ingram.
"We are excited that a decision has been made," said Cheraw Parks and Recreation Director, Phil Powell. "The next step is to form a steering committee to work out the details of the town's plan. The proposal is just a recipe for how we can build a facility,
it is definitely not the only way it can be done," said Powell.
The start up cost of the wellness center is about $4 million, which also would require $300,000 a year from the town. This in turn would make for a commitment over a 20 year period from the town's hospitality tax fund. "Right now, we have $275,000 budgeted in hospitality tax revenues, with $ 97,000 committed to other areas.
Ingram stated that in order for the town to commit to that $300,000 a year, it will also have to find special funding for those other promises, or the option will be to choose not to continue that $300,000. The town has committed $177,000 of its hospitality tax to the wellness center for this year. Most of the $97,000 was budgeted for the tourism department and also for festivals and other town activities.
In light of all of the above, prompts a brand new avenue for the town. Suggested names of individuals to serve on the "Blue Ribbon" Steering Committee were brought to the table at Wednesday's town briefing. The proposed priority action steps to move forward with the wellness center are as follows.
* Secure land for project
* Develop citizen support
* Develop partnership agreements with Chesterfield General Hospital, Northeastern Technical College, "Legends at Cheraw" residential development and Government Agencies.
* Building design
* Develop Financial Package
Much more work and details are needed to be done before final decisions can be made in building the wellness center. The wellness center proposal suggests funding of the project in two phases without the increase of property taxes. The total estimated cost to build the wellness center is around $6.4 million.
"We've got a lot of work to do to see what we can afford. We want to be sure we can build a quality facility with little burden to the town or taxpayers," said Powell.