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City closes on YMCA

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There was a small metal clank, barely audible, as City Administrator Tracy Slagle stepped up to the podium and plunked down a set of keys during Bolivar’s board of aldermen meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13. 

“Here’s the keys,” she said with a laugh. “We closed today. There we go!” 

Slagle said the city finalized its purchase of the lease on the Roy Blunt YMCA building on West Broadway Street from the Ozarks Regional YMCA for $575,000 on Tuesday afternoon.

“We’ll begin the process of cleaning and making plans to do all the work that needs to be done,” she said. 

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, the Ozarks Regional YMCA said the goal of the transition of ownership and operation of the community resource is “to continue to serve the citizens of Bolivar with health, recreation and community needs.”  

“The Y is thankful for the past 19 years of serving the community and for building a foundation for the future,” the statement said. “It has been a privilege to serve the children, families and community.” 

After discussion in a pair of meetings, the board voted unanimously to approve the purchase in its Tuesday, Aug. 25, meeting. 

“We are very excited about reopening the building as a community center,” Slagle said Wednesday, Oct. 14. “We are currently reviewing applications for a parks and recreation superintendent and are looking forward to working with the community as we develop programming and events.”

Mayor Chris Warwick said the goal is to have the building open for members in January.   

In the meeting, Slagle said the city was working to get utilities and internet service up and running at the location. 

She also said there’s already interest from the Bolivar R-1 school district for use of the building.

With a unanimous vote, the board approved a limited use contract with the school district.  

“They would like to use half a gym floor to leave mats set out, so they could have overflow wrestling practice there,” Slagle said. “They would use it from after school until about 8 o’clock in the evening.” 

She said school employees would supervise the practices and lock the facility each night. 

The practices run from mid-October through January, Warwick said, and the mats would sit on the south end of the gym.

“We want to begin a good relationship of reciprocity with them,” Slagle said. “So that if they have an overflow activity, and we have the ability to allow them to use the space then they can do so. And likewise, if we have a basketball league or tournament coming up, then we would like to request use of their facility, then they would also in turn allow us to utilize the property.” 

Alderman Steve Skopec asked if the mats could be moved on weekends to accommodate for other events, like community dances for seniors.

Slagle said city staff could discuss moving the mats with the school district. She also said someone from the community contacted her about hosting dances in other outdoor spaces, as well.   

Board members present at the meeting include Skopec, Ethel Mae Tennis, Justin Ballard, Michael Ryan, Steve Sagaser, Thane Kifer, Alexis Neal and Charles Keith.

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