Well-earned applause for recreation leaders

Well-meaning and passionate community leaders are on their way to establishing Lewisburg as the Valley’s recreation and wellness hub.

During a public tour last week, officials from the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA, Weis Markets and other volunteers highlighted the continuing effort to bring a Lewisburg YMCA facility to the former Wal-Mart location. It would be the Valley’s fourth YMCA, joining branches in Sunbury, Milton and Mifflinburg. Thanks to the generosity of Weis Markets and an aggressive fund-raising effort, the 96,000-square foot facility is swiftly progressing.

It is proof what can happen when a group of like-minded, networked and enterprising people rally for something greater than themselves, a representation of what, so far, seems like the perfect public-private partnership.

According to Norm Jones, YMCA board president and project planning chairman, more than $3 million was raised through 36 large donations in just the past six months. A $3 million state grant is pending and another $4 million federal tax credits was previously approved.

Martha Barrick, a community business leader and a YMCA volunteer, hit the nail on the head when she noted the capital raised in a half-year is indicative of the community’s commitment to the project and to itself. With additional donations being sought, the hope is a public campaign is needed to cover only the final $500,000 of the $13.8 million facility.

“People care about (the community) and they want to be a part of it, and we don’t have to go outside to raise funds,” Barrick said.

There is a similar story going on down the road, where the Miller Center is eying a summer opening after fast-tracking construction of a 92,500 square foot structure near Penn Commons.

The Miller family, founders of Playworld hope their recreation and wellness center is open by early July. When it opens, it will be the culmination of a five-year project.

Lewisburg and the Susquehanna Valley should applaud those who have donated their time, sweat and money to see such worthwhile projects move closer to a reality.

- The Daily Item