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YMCA seeks city financial support for bike program
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Members of the Martinsville City Council visited the Martinsville YMCA Tuesday to learn about its programs. Pictured are (from left) council members Sharon Brooks Hodge, Mark Stroud, Danny Turner, YMCA Director Brad Kinkema and Mayor Kim Adkins. (Bulletin photo by Mickey Powell)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Martinsville-Henry County Family YMCA wants the city to help it cover the cost of providing and maintaining public bicycles along local trails.

Executive Director Brad Kinkema made that request while Martinsville City Council toured the organization’s Starling Avenue facility Tuesday night.

The council made no commitment, but Mayor Kim Adkins said Wednesday she would like the city to consider Kinkema’s request.

Activate Martinsville Henry County, which now is under the Y’s fold, runs a Bike Barn along the Dick & Willie Passage trail. A “spur trail” uptown connects with the larger trail.

Bikes, which are available to the public for use on the trails for free, were borrowed about 3,600 times last year, Kinkema said. So far this year, he said, bikes have been borrowed for more than 1,270 rides.

Riders have come from as far as China, he said, noting that the trails have become popular.

It costs the Y about $20,000 a year to operate the Bike Barn, Kinkema said, adding that he would like the organization and city to “partner financially” to buy and maintain bicycles as needed.

“City council should be advocates” for the Y, Kinkema told Adkins, a former member of the Y board, as the council left.

Adkins said Wednesday that she thinks Kinkema “did a really good job” of explaining the bike program’s popularity. She said she will ask City Manager Leon Towarnicki to consider whether the city should help fund it as part of the city’s efforts to support community development activities.

“I’d leave it up to him” (Towarnicki) to determine whether that is feasible, she said.

In the past, there were discussions about the possibility of the Y being involved in Martinsville Parks & Recreation Department programs.

Kinkema said the Y determined then that it was “not a fit for us ... to be involved” in helping manage the city’s recreation programs.

Adkins said she also would like Towarnicki to determine “if there’s a way for the city ... to further enhance” its parks and recreation programs by having the Y involved in them.

“There could be good partnerships” formed between the city and the Y, she said.

One she envisions is partnering to help city children learn to swim, considering that the Y operates the area’s only indoor pool.

Kinkema said the Y is partnering with the Henry County Public Schools and Carlisle School next year to teach first-graders to swim. He said the Martinsville schools have made no commitment to that project.

The Martinsville-Henry County Family YMCA, which also has a branch in Collinsville, has about 4,300 members, Kinkema said.

Yet he estimated that it actually serves about one out of every five city-county residents, including members who use its facilities and nonmembers who participate in youth activities and Activate-sponsored road races.

Despite having a healthy number of members, Kinkema said, the Y’s revenues from memberships have been “fairly stagnant” in recent years as members have dropped to lower, less costly membership levels.

Kinkema said the Y has launched “a small, $500,000 capital campaign” to make improvements to its facilities, such as repairing roof leaks.

The Y eventually would like to expand its Martinsville branch, such as by adding a youth gym and several multi-purpose rooms, he said.

But there are no plans to launch a capital campaign to fund those because “the (local financial) climate is tough” right now, he added.


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