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Church to buy Severna Park YMCA building


Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church this week signed a contract to buy the Severna Park YMCA building on Cypress Creek Road.

The church plans to renovate the building and reopen it by September, church officials said.

David Simms, a church spokesman, said Wood Memorial agreed Tuesday evening to buy the building, its swimming pool and another church next door to the YMCA for $525,000. Church officials hope to close on the property by the end of August.

Mr. Simms said the church will spend more than $100,000 over the next six months to improve the building, which is run down because the YMCA group was not making enough money to pay for the building's upkeep.

"Things like the roof are almost at the end of their lifetime," Mr. Simms said, adding that the building also needs plumbing, grading and electrical work.

The Severna Park YMCA closed last month, citing financial problems in a note left on the door. Gary Paul, board member and spokesman, said YMCA was more than $760,000 in debt at the end of March and that more bills have accumulated since then.

He said the group is trying to sell a former firehouse it owns in Glen Burnie.

If that building sells for $300,000 to $350,000, the group would just about clear its debt, Mr. Paul said.

But he said he is doubtful that will happen.

"There wasn't as much expressed interest from day one with the Glen Burnie property as with the Severna Park property," he said. "I don't think we're going to come exactly up to speed in paying everybody everything."

The YMCA was hoping to be able to have sale contracts on both properties by tomorrow when the insurance on the buildings expires.

Mr. Paul said another group has volunteered to pay the additional premium costs for the Glen Burnie building, giving the group more time to sell it.

"I'm really hopeful that we're going to be entirely successful in bringing this whole matter to an end soon, and that all parties will be satisfied," he said.

Woods Memorial hopes it can strike a deal with the Severna Park swim club to manage the pool.

If that works out, church members would like to reopen the pool and bring back some of the exercise and karate groups that were in the building before the YMCA folded. Portions of the building will be managed by community groups, church officials say.

"We were very interested in keeping a swimming pool available for the community," Mr. Simms said.

Plans for who will be able to use the building are still being negotiated. Community groups have suggested ideas for the property.

Mr. Simms said the Green Hornets, a local sports association, is interested in building an indoor gymnasium on the property. Mr. Simms said construction would have to be paid for by the sports club, and the church could rent the space.

Mr. Simms also said the private Severn School has expressed interest in turning the church building next to the YMCA into a performing arts center.

Mr. Simms said he also would like to meet with members of the Association for Severna Park Improvement, Renewal and Enhancement, (ASPIRE) to see if the building could become the community center the group wants.

"It's up to us on the planning committee to see what the community wants to have," Mr. Simms said.

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