YMCA Long Island and Family Community Life Center — two white whales that have been on again, off again for the past couple of decades in town — are apparently in discussions to develop a partnership.
During the Riverhead school board meeting Tuesday, president and CEO of the Family Community Life Center Shirley Coverdale said the YMCA is “interested in partnering” with her group “in some form.”
She didn’t disclose any other details about the discussions, and declined further comment on Wednesday morning.
The announcement came after Ms. Coverdale gave a presentation about the Family Center Life Center at the Jan. 13 school board meeting in an effort to gather support for the nonprofit’s project.
“The only new thing since I made my presentation is that we have met most recently with YMCA Long Island,” she said.
The proposed Family Community Life Center, which was conceptualized by Ms. Coverdale and her husband, the Rev. Charles Coverdale of First Baptist Church, would include 125 apartments, an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool, a 25-seat theater and media center, 24-hour adult and child day care services and more.
The project has been met with both applause and skepticism. Some have said it’s a needed asset to the area’s working class, while others have raised eyebrows about the burden it could bring — particularly to the school district.
Supporters of the FCLC have pointed to the help around-the-clock day care it can provide for families who work more than one job, and the assets it has for teenagers looking for something to do. But its proposal on land owned by the First Baptist Church, opponents argue, would come at a cost. Since the property is tax exempt, property taxes would not be applied to the 125 apartments proposed.
School board member Greg Meyer said he was “thrilled” by the news.
“I know we’ve been wanting a YMCA to come here,” he said, “and now to team up with the Family Life Center, I think that’s excellent not only for the kids of the district, but also for everybody within the district and even outside of the district.”
YMCA Long Island officials weren’t immediately available for comment.
Discussions over building a YMCA in Riverhead Town could be considered as a sore subject for some people.
After several locations were rejected, the Town Board had approved in 2012 a proposal to build a YMCA at EPCAL in Calverton, but those plans fell through a year later.
Peconic YMCA co-founder Joe Van de Wetering, who’s trying to bring a YMCA to Riverhead Town for the past several years, said in an interview Wednesday he hopes the latest plan will come through since many attempts have failed.
“A YMCA or similar type of facility is definitely needed,” he said. “We need a place where kids have a place to go to after school, kept busy and become involved with the community. All of these things still needs to be done.”
Riverhead School Superintendent Nancy Carney had said in 2013 that YMCA of Long Island officials had reached out to her about building a facility on school property. Those plans never came to fruition either.
Ms. Carney said the school district’s attorney is currently reviewing a draft resolution Ms. Coverdale has requested the school board approve in support of the project.