Gonzales council signals support for YMCA project


After clarifying the city’s role in the project, Gonzales City Council voted unanimously Aug. 27 in favor of a resolution endorsing Mayor Connie Kacir’s “Say Yes to Education” initiative and supporting the mayor’s efforts in recruiting the YMCA to Gonzales.

First mentioned at a Gonzales Independent School District (GISD) board of directors meeting Aug. 12, the “Say Yes to Education” initiative is an Office of the Mayor driven project described as a working partnership with the YMCA of the Golden Crescent, GISD, political subdivisions, community leaders, other individuals, seniors and the youth to “greatly improve our current educational levels and break the cycle in generation poverty.” The recruitment of the YMCA to Gonzales is a component of the project and a longtime goal for Kacir. Kacir explained at the Aug. 12 meeting she first explored the idea nine years ago and believes now is the best time to make it happen. Her GISD presentation elaborated that bringing a YMCA to Gonzales would not only benefit the school district, but the county as a whole.

“The YMCA does work with children grades 1-12, they have an afterschool program, it’s proven successful in many, many different communities,” Kacir said. “I don’t want to limit it to only our youth, the Y also has senior programs and I’ve actually had someone that’s approached the Y (about) possibly donating a home to make it into a senior citizen center if the Y would help administer those programs.”

Two councilmembers sought to clarify the resolution passed Aug. 27 does not ensnare the city in any fiscal responsibilities but rather is merely a show a support for the project. Mayor pro tem Dan Blakemore asked Gonzales Director of Finance Laura Zella how much the city had budgeted for the funding of a YMCA facility, to which Zella responded “zero.”

“I just want to go on record in saying that we are not funding anything for the YMCA except support,” Blakemore said.

Councilmember Gary Schroeder asked, “so, we’re not going to be taking any budget money out to put nobody else on a $50,000 a year (project director) salary, right?”

“For the record councilman, that answer is no,” Kacir said.

At the GISD board meeting Aug. 12, Bud Oliver, CEO of the YMCA of the Golden Crescent, said the first phase of the project is “community-needs assessment” that will help them identify if Gonzales is a feasible location for expansion. Oliver said the YMCA would need a minimum of 340 responses for the survey to be valid. According to the YMCA, they reached 400 responses on Aug. 28.