Support the YMCA

To the Editor:

The Mount Desert Island YMCA has been a critical part of the Bar Harbor community since it was founded in 1905 by many of the same summer and year-round residents who provided support for building the MDI Hospital and the Jesup Library. All three of these institutions are over 110 years old and provide critical services to our community.

The Mount Desert Island YMCA serves as the focal point for all segments of our community. Almost 40 percent of those who live within 10 miles of the MDI YMCA are members. This level of membership is very unusual within the YMCA movement. This speaks to the importance of the YMCA in a small community on an island, especially when the summer crowds leave and the cool dark days of fall and winter descend.

Our high market penetration also points to the fact that the YMCA serves as the recreation center for Bar Harbor. Other communities spend hundreds to thousands of dollars staffing and maintaining theirs.

The Mount Desert Island YMCA requested an increase in funding from the town of Bar Harbor from $49,544 to $100,000 for the next fiscal year. The Town Council voted to increase the YMCA funding by $25,000, to $75,544.

The Warrant Committee voted to increase the YMCA funding to $100,000. This difference in funding was not reconciled between the Town Council and the Warrant Committee in a joint meeting. The decision on what level of funding will be provided to the YMCA will, therefore, be determined at the town meeting on June 6.

The MDI YMCA is funded primarily through three sources of income. On a percentage basis, the YMCA’s income is from the following sources: membership – 42 percent, programs – 26 percent, contributions – 23 percent, Bar Harbor Town Funding – 4 percent, endowment income – 3 percent, 1 percent miscellaneous. The requested increase will increase the town’s funding percentage to only 8 percent.

The Mount Desert Island YMCA is undergoing an exhaustive strategic planning process that started several months ago. This process involved a well-attended community forum where there was active discussion by community members on how the YMCA can best serve the community. While the strategic planning process will not be complete for another month, it has become clear that the YMCA needs additional income in order to continue serving the community with its wide variety of services.

We really need the $100,000 if we are to continue to provide our current level of services and facilities. Please consider the benefits the YMCA provides to the Bar Harbor community when you attend town meeting. We urge all residents to attend and express their views.

Dean S. Read

Bar Harbor

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