City plans to reimburse more YMCA funds

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The city of Sealy’s drama with the YMCA – a saga that has gone on for more than five years – continued this week.

At press time Tuesday afternoon, the Sealy City Council was poised to refund an additional $100,000 the Mark A. Chapman Foundation. As previously reported by The Sealy News, the city was offered a $1.5 million grant from the Foundation contingent upon starting construction of a new building by April of this year. When the city failed to meet that obligation, they reimbursed the YMCA a portion of those funds – about $1.3 million – but some money already had been spent on architectural fees.

“They didn’t give us all our money back,” said Ryan Reichardt, who represents the Chapman Foundation. “The city controlled our funds and paid the architect, more than $120,000 we did not agree with. The project was within the budget, but when they reversed their original decision and didn’t accept the land from David Cryan, that changed the plan, increased costs and shut everything down. The original estimate was in 2012 or 2013. They’re the ones who changed the plan and the cost goes up. They so badly mismanaged it. It doesn’t cost the same as it did five years ago.”

Chapman Foundation representatives then threatened legal action to honor the original agreement and ultimately reached a compromise that the city would cough up half of the remaining amount owed to the Mark A. Chapman Foundation, which funded the grant.

Cheryl L. Mellenthin of the Mark A. Chapman Foundation said she agreed to cover $100,000 – roughly half of the architectural fees expended – if the city would cover the other half.

“Many, many people worked very hard for many years to make the YMCA in Sealy a reality,” Mellenthin said. “It saddens us greatly that it didn’t happen. The Mark A. Chapman Foundation has recently given money to the YMCA of Greater Houston, but that does not lessen our resolve and ability to build a YMCA in Sealy also. Meanwhile, we will support the current programs with funding as needed to keep them going.”  

Interim City Manager Warren Escovy said he believes the city is on board, but the matter was contingent on a city council vote scheduled for Tuesday evening.

While YMCA programs are ongoing in Sealy, there is not a permanent facility.

“The Sealy Family YMCA would like to re-affirm our commitment to the Sealy community,” said Pam Filip, community executive director of YMCA Katy at Main Street and Sealy YMCA. “We will continue to help families, both youth and adults, through our programs. After School, Group Exercise, Youth Sports, Summer Aquatic Programs, Karate and Dance will continue to be offered. Our goal in 2017-2018 is to strengthen existing programs and develop new programs that stakeholders believe are beneficial to the community.”

Stay tuned to The Sealy News website and Facebook page for updates on this issue as they become available. 

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