We've been remiss in not acknowledging the good news that broke out of the Lakewood area late on Monday. As you've probably heard (and can read about in the H-S, N&O, or at Barry's place), the YMCA of the Triangle has struck an agreement with Durham County and the Durham Public Schools that preserves the future of the longtime neighborhood institution.
The County approved the deal unanimously on Monday night; it moves to the school board in late May for that body's nod.
In a nutshell, the county will spend $250,000 for the 60,000 sq. ft. facility -- a fraction of what the H-S reports is a $2.6-$4.5 million appraised value -- then spend $8 million to repair the old and battered facility. One-third of the space will be leased back to the Y for $1 per year; the Y will pay to make some final upfit renovations to their part facility, but the 15-year lease deal still is worth almost $2 million to the non-profit.
The remainder of the old Y will be turned over by the county to DPS, which will operate a Montessori middle school in the space in less than four years' time.
It's rare that you can call a deal a win-win (or, here, a win-win-win) and mean it as more than a cliche. But this is that really unusual case where the term applies.
DPS gets a deep, deep discount on the cost of opening a new middle school -- as Matthew Milliken notes at Paxton's Durham daily, a new middle school for North Durham is estimated to cost $32 million, not including the cost of land already owned by the county. So, for less than a quarter the cost of a new school, DPS gets room to accomodate more students.
And a magnet school is a great fit for a socioeconomically diverse area like Lakewood; Duke student Kristen Manderscheid's analysis earlier this year also found some disadvantaged populations seemed to really benefit from magnet programs, while the school is also likely to draw students from more privileged backgrounds (and their parents' PTA time and money contributions to boot.) I believe the new school will be the first Montessori magnet middle school in Durham, which already has several such elementary programs.
For the YMCA, the deal is a new life for the facility; the YMCA of the Triangle had expressed concerns during the discussions with the local community that it would take a massive capital campaign to restore the facility to a fit condition. The Y gives up the building but gets back a renovated space without having to fund much of the cost. And besides maintaining an adult fitness center, the facility will allow the Y to continue its popular summer camp and after-school programs -- the latter of which just found a great new target market in co-located middle school students.
And of course, the community keeps its facility active, with a brand new purpose of education that can serve as an anchor in the community. The Committee to Save the Lakewood Y, winners of the Indy Weekly's Citizen Award in 2007 for their efforts, deserves credit for reminding the entire community of what advocacy, passion and determination can do.
Kudos to all involved for a perfect ending to what looked for a long time to be a perpetually imperfect situation.