GOP walkout threatens funding for new YMCA building in Eugene

The Oregon Senate is at a standstill after Republican lawmakers walked out last week, leaving lawmakers unable to vote, and the toll is being felt beyond just the controversial climate bill.

Posted: Jun 27, 2019 6:23 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Oregon Senate is at a standstill after Republican lawmakers walked out last week, leaving lawmakers unable to vote, and the toll is being felt beyond just the controversial climate bill.

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One of the proposals stuck on standby is House Bill 5030, which would direct $15 million to help fund a new YMCA building in Eugene. The overall cost of the building is $34 million.

The Eugene YMCA has been at the Patterson Street location for 64 years, making it the oldest nonprofit in Lane County. However, the rich history comes with wear and tear.

“We've outgrown it, we need a Y that will sustain a growing membership for the next 100 years," YMCA member Norma Grier said.

The proposed bill would help fund nearly half of the new building, which will be on the corner of Hilyard Street and 24th Avenue, where Roosevelt Middle School used to be.

CEO of the Eugene YMCA Brian Steffen said the new location will allow them to serve twice as many people along with being fully accessible.

“It’s a vital bill for us because it allows our project to take place in a much quicker time frame and it would shorten the length of our project by several years,” Steffen said.

The Eugene YMCA has almost 20,000 visitors each month, more than 18,000 individuals and families a year and more than 600 kids a day.

Steffen said the population has tripled since it opened in the 1950s and it's time they serve the YMCA of today.

If the bill doesn't pass, their dreams of a new building aren't gone yet.

"Throughout a lengthy $34 million project, there will always be times of uncertainty and questions. We are never going to give up because you can’t give up on kids education and health outcomes in your community,” Steffen said.

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