Manatee YMCA buys land in Parrish, plans new facility in 3-5 years

The Parrish YMCA has plans to build a new facility on five acres on Rutland Road. It will need to raise the money for design and construction.
The Parrish YMCA has plans to build a new facility on five acres on Rutland Road. It will need to raise the money for design and construction.

The Manatee YMCA announced Wednesday it has purchased five acres on Rutland Road, across U.S. 301 from the current Parrish YMCA Branch facility, and plans to build a full-service complex in the next three to five years.

Iris McClain, a board member of the Parrish Civic Association and the Parrish Arts Council, welcomed the news.

“Oh, my gosh, it’s so great,” McClain said. “The YMCA has probably been the best thing that has happened in Parrish in years, but they are so out of room and have been for some time.”

The YMCA has operated its Parrish branch out of the refurbished historic Parrish School since 2009.

Like the YMCA branch in Lakewood Ranch, the Parrish community has embraced the YMCA and soon ran out of space for new programs.

Sean Allison, CEO of the Manatee YMCA, said the facility will cost $6 million to $8 million and will retain the atmosphere and community feel of the Parrish School, which was built in 1924, according to a YMCA press release.

The new site was purchased for $625,000, but the money to build the facility has not yet been raised.

Because of its limited space, the Parrish YMCA has had to be creative with some of its programs, such as swimming lessons, which have been offered at Cross Creek.

“Parrish is a growing community that needs more programs, more services for moms and families and more safe places for children to go,” Allison said in the press release. “We need a pool, sports and camp facilities, and gathering spaces for members and the community at large. The Parrish School has been the perfect place for the Y to serve the community and grow, but it was not designed as a YMCA, and the expense of maintaining an old building is financially challenging.”

McClain, who headed up the summer recreation programs for children in Parrish before there was a local YMCA branch, was especially excited that the new facility will include a pool and gym.

“Right from the beginning, the Parrish Civic Association saw the need to have something for the children to do in the summer,” McClain said.

The YMCA might have had an even more difficult time entering Parrish after the state condemned the Parrish School building in 2007 were it not for Manatee County government.

The county spent $2 million in renovations to bring the building back up to code. The Parrish Foundation and the Y then worked together to start the Parrish YMCA Branch in 2009. In 2014, the Parrish School was gifted to The Parrish Foundation by the county.

There are now almost 3,500 members of the Parrish YMCA branch.

“There are so many things we’ll be able to do with more space,” Allison said. “We have the opportunity to expand our (Special Organized Adult Recreation) program for adults with special needs. We will be able to grow our youth sports offerings to more children and swim lessons, and water safety programs will dramatically expand when we have our own pool.

“We can offer summer day camps to more kids, and increase our arts and senior programs to the community. The facility will also provide adequate space for large community gatherings and functions. We’re appreciative of the patience of our members as we’ve outgrown our space.”

James A. Jones Jr.: 941-745-7053, @jajones1