This is the letter I wrote to the Daily News/Destin Log regarding the closing of all Okaloosa YMCAs, including the one in Destin:
When I first moved to this area I was stunned by the lack of neighborhood swimming pools and summer league swim teams. Upon discovering our beautiful Destin YMCA, I was even more surprised to learn that financial difficulties were placing its future in jeopardy.
As someone who was deeply involved in the swimming community both at the collegiate and club levels in Texas and in the Southeast region, I know for a fact teams plan a year in advance to come to meets in cities like Pensacola to take advantage of our gorgeous coast. Similarly, collegiate teams take winter training trips to warm spots in Florida for a change of scenery and week of intense training in milder temperatures.
With a fresh slate, there exists great potential for growth and building on our city's family-friendly community vision. As your city Councilwoman who was appointed to the Destin YMCA Board, I know there were many exciting ideas in the planning stages such as beach volleyball. Other ideas we can tap into are starting a Masters swim team, summer league swimming, scuba, expansion of junior lifeguards, cross-training for football players and runners, triathlete practices, and so much more.
Further, the potential for hosting high caliber meets is within our grasp. Consider Fort Lauderdale where people stand in line waiting to enter the pool at 4:30 in the morning and there is a constant flow daily, all-year long.
With the superb coaches in this area and the various networks at hand, there is unlimited potential for Destin to become a primary destination for the USA swimming community. Indeed, we could become a swimming Mecca with a positive impact felt not only by the swimming community but by the City of Destin and area as a whole.
We are all aware of the hardships caused by both the economic downturn and BP oil spill that led to the loss of critical funding donors. It is my hope and fervent wish that, with so much potential and so many people and groups wanting to help, we can find a way to make this a reality.
At the end of the day we are a community that pulls together to help one another. Now is the time for us to reach out and join hands to remedy the tragic closing of our YMCA.