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Mount Vernon Debates Keeping YMCA Building

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – The Mount Vernon City Council is pondering taking the YMCA building at 70 W. 1st St. off the auction block, with some council members saying it would be beneficial to keep it.

Some people in the city, including Mayor Ernie Davis, want to keep the building – and bond up to $750,000 to fix it. But Councilman J. Yuhanna Edwards said the city has been in discussions with the school district to use its space for youth activities, which may mean the YMCA building is expendable.

Councilwoman Karen Watts-Yehudah said the city already has the staff in place for such activities that the city pays for through the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau, so there wouldn’t be any additional cost to running programs out of that building if potential renovations are ever complete.

“There is always pride for youth facilities in our community,” Watts-Yehuda said. “People go back to when we had three YMCA’s in Mount Vernon. We haven’t had one in a while and people are constantly asking us for one. Whether it is dilapidated or not, it’s still less to renovate it then to build something new.”

Still, the dilapidated condition of the building is a sticking point for Councilwoman Deborah Reynolds, who said renovations to the YMCA building might cost more than the city would bond for. Reynolds said the city should look at other city-owned properties and see what it can do with them.

“We need to look at adding movie theaters, skating rinks and bowling alleys,” Reynolds said.

But Watts-Yehudah said the fact that the YMCA building has the only municipally owned pool in the city should make keeping it a priority.

“The No. 1 cause of death among people under 21 is drowning,” Watts-Yehudah said. “This one issue makes having a pool so paramount in a community such as this.”

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