Bonifay Ends Contract With Local YMCA

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Over the last several months, the Holmes County Recreational Center has been a focal point of controversy. And it looks like there's more controversy ahead.

Earlier this week Bonifay City Council members voted to end their contract with the YMCA to take over the Holmes County Recreational Center. The facility has been vacant for almost seven months. The city was hoping to cut a deal with the YMCA to operate the rec center so the community can benefit from it.

The YMCA says under the terms of the contract, the city would give the "Y” immediate possession of the deed for the building. In return, the "Y" would raise $80,000 for building repairs.

But the city's mayor received a letter from the Department of Environmental Protection saying, if the city transferred the property to the "Y" then the city would have to pay back $200,000 in state grant money.

When "Y" officials called DEP, they got a different story.

"The state confirmed that that was a misinterpretation. The state was only discussing the rec center property and that application for the grant money," said YMCA chairperson Debbie Wells.

To make matters worse, "Y" officials say the city didn't notify them about the meeting to discuss the contract. Mayor Howell says another group wanted the building and the council wanted them to raise the money first before anyone could occupy it.

"We've got to try to let them understand that they don't own anything until we're clear of having to pay $200,000," says Howell.

Now they're waiting on the state to make a decision on whether or not the city can give the YMCA the deed and whether or not they can keep the grant money. Either way, both the mayor and the YMCA say they want the center to remain open to the public.

City officials are hoping for some clarification from the state by next week. The next city council meeting is November 13.