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Proposed YMCA has Guyton buzzing with possibilities
Site of future park
This 14-acre plot at 718 Central Blvd. is being developed as a recreation site in Guyton. (Submitted photo)

By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald

Guyton residents met April 4 in the Guyton Gym with Mayor Russ Deen and the city council to discuss plans for a proposed recreation facility on Central Avenue.

Still in the discussion phase, leaders from the Coastal Georgia YMCA were also on hand to discuss the organization’s mission, projects on-going or recently completed at other local Y locations, and gather feedback from Guyton residents.

Mayor Deen was pleased with the turnout of almost 50 residents.

“This is the most people (here) since we started having meetings over here (at the gym), so I'll expect you all and Tuesday night's council meeting,” Deen said.

“This (meeting) was the brainchild from one of our stakeholder meetings of our comprehensive plan,” Deen said. “As we were discussing all the dire needs of Guyton – childcare, senior activities, all the things the YMCA does, Tamela Mydell, (owner of the Southern Kafe on 17 and a board member of the Effingham Chamber of Commerce) said, ‘Why aren’t you talking with the YMCA?’”

That was the start of bringing the Y, Guyton city leaders, and the community together.

Joel Smoker, CEO of the Coastal Georgia YMCA, urged the audience to participate via their cell phones to various questions about services or amenities they would like in a future Y in Guyton.

Anything to do with children was the number-one concern of the crowd. The audience expressed desire for everything from childcare, to tutoring, kindergarten readiness, to having a “safe place for youth and teens to socialize.”

Other ideas mentioned were gymnastics and PE programs for home-school students.

According to posts on Facebook, most people would like an indoor pool so water activities and swimming can be held year round, which may be a possibility. Among other desires were programs for seniors and families.

Costs were discussed. To this point Smoker pointed out, “Nobody is excluded from the YMCA programs.” He explained that people pay based on their income. “You simply fill out a form that speaks to what your annual income is and then we have a scale that says if you make $50,000 a year you pay this rate, and a household that makes $100,000 pays another rate.”

The land for the proposed Y is 14 acres at 718 Central Blvd., which the City of Guyton is in the process of purchasing for $750,000 from Savannah-based Spiva Law Group. When combined with the existing ballfields of Bazemore Park, Guyton will have 26 acres available for recreation.