Education

Columbus could get a new YMCA if school property sale goes through

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The Muscogee County Board of Education is the elected governing body of the Muscogee County School District. The school board consists of nine members. Eight of the members are elected from districts. One is elected at large.
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The Muscogee County Board of Education is the elected governing body of the Muscogee County School District. The school board consists of nine members. Eight of the members are elected from districts. One is elected at large.

A new branch of the YMCA in Columbus could be coming to the site of a closing community center and a former school, according to Muscogee County School District officials.

The Muscogee County School Board was scheduled to vote Sept. 16 on the proposed sale of the 5.31 acres at 1282 Rigdon Road for $460,000, but superintendent David Lewis pulled the agenda item because the paperwork isn’t ready, he said during Monday night’s work session.

The item is expected to be on a future school board meeting agenda.

Lewis and school board chairwoman Pat Hugley Green told the L-E after the work session their understanding is that the YMCA intends to construct a facility on the property.

However, YMCA of Metropolitan Columbus president and CEO Mario Davis did not respond to the L-E’s request for comment.

The YMCA has three locations in Columbus:

  • A.J. McClung branch, 1175 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
  • D.A. Turner branch, 4384 Warm Springs Road.
  • John P. Thayer branch, 24 14th St.

The property for sale is where the original Rigdon Road Elementary School was located. Although the agenda item says the land known as Ardahlia Mack Park is vacant, Lewis confirmed that the proposed deal includes the Ardahlia Mack Community Center, 1306 W. Lindsay Drive.

The community center is owned by the Muscogee County School District but has been operated by the Columbus Consolidated Government.

Built for recreation more than 40 years ago and now used for meetings and events, the Ardahlia Mack Community Center opened in the 1970s behind Rigdon Road Elementary School.

The center was supposed to be demolished a decade ago to make room for the new school, but it was constructed near the center instead.

The city had been renting the center for local events but recently stopped so MCSD could sell the property. Agreements with organizations that regularly use the center for meetings weren’t renewed in the new fiscal year, which started July 1.

“The City is no longer renting the facility out for community events,” Columbus Parks and Recreation Department director Holli Browder told the L-E in an email Thursday. “We are however allowing the organizations who had previously held weekday meetings to continue using the facility until which time we are told that we can no longer use the building.”

The center and park are named in memory of Ardahlia Mack, who was a local community activist.

Willie Brown, president of the Lindsey Creek Area Civic Association, told the L-E in an email Wednesday he is concerned about losing the facility that honors Mack.

“The residents use the current center as a community resource,” said Brown, who retired from MCSD in January 2018 as assistant director of transportation. “The YMCA is a totally different type facility and purpose.”

He called the deal “not clearly identified as a win for the neighborhood.”

Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Mark Rice covers education and other issues related to youth. He also writes feature stories about any compelling topic. He has been reporting in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley for more than a quarter-century. He welcomes your local news tips and questions.
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