YMCA ends relationship with Easley


By Ben Robinson

For The Courier

EASLEY — Sid Collins, executive director of the Pickens County YMCA, showed up at Monday’s Easley city council meeting to end the relationship between the city of Easley and the YMCA’s summer youth camps, but left the option open for future cooperation between the two entities.

For the past six years, the YMCA has held its summer camps at the city’s J.B. Owens Recreation Complex, but Collins said that would no longer be necessary due to improvements to the YMCA’s facility on Burns Road in Easley.

Collins said the YMCA appreciated the city’s assistance, as more than 800 children have participated in the YMCA’s summer youth camps at the Owen Complex, and the YMCA was very pleased with the relationship. But Collins said moving the camps back to the YMCA facilities will help avoid complications such as transporting the campers to and from the YMCA for activities in the YMCA swimming pool.

Mayor Larry Bagwell said he hopes the city and the YMCA will be able to work out agreements so the children can visit the Owens Complex on scheduled field trips and other occasions.

Collins said the field trips would probably be part of the YMCA summer camps program, and he looks forward to future occasions when the city and the YMCA can work together to serve the children in the community.

“It has been a blessing,” Collins said of the relationship. “It created some challenges; it created some opportunities.”

The city also approved a new agreement with Easley Combined Utilities.

The city’s agreement that will soon expire gave the city 3.3 percent from each bill as a franchise fee. The new agreement calls for an increase to 5 percent of each bill going to the city.

Councilman David Watson said the fee increase comes at a bad time, when various business expenses continue to skyrocket. Watson said that every bill seems to have hidden costs that add up to quite a bit. He wondered aloud whether the franchise fee increase, coupled with regular rate increases by ECU, could make it too expensive to do business in Easley.

Bagwell reminded Watson that the city had lost $1.5 million in revenue in the past year. Watson said he was aware of that but hoped the city could find revenue somewhere else than adding to businesses’ expense.

Council voted 5-1 on the issue, with councilman Chris Mann absent for a school field trip with his child.