Plans to build taxpayer funded YMCA upsets some gym owners

Atlas Gym is located adjacent to the future site of the YMCA.

CAMDEN (WACH) -- Atlas Gym may soon have more competition.

Last month, the City of Camden announced its plans to build a YMCA.

The facility will be located on a nine acre parcel, which the city bought back in March for $362,000.

This council has taken the initiative to build a new gymnasium and that is where this idea has come from, according to Mayor Jeffrey Graham.

Residents shared their wants and needs on Tuesday with staff from the Columbia YMCA with whom the city is joining to help facilitate the project.

The major funding source of this will come from the hospitality tax, Graham says. I think if you have amenities like this, people will want to choose to be apart of your community.

Taxpayers are paying for not only the property, but the city will also put up money for the building and the necessary equipment. The Y will only be responsible for its utility bills.

Charles King who owns Atlas Gym is opposed to the plans.

I can not bear the prospect of the city opening up something that is going to compete against me without the same overhead and incurred costs I have to stay open, King says.

The size and scope of the Y has yet to be determined.

I have told the city, if you ultimately construct and operate something that has the same amenities I have and more, King adds, it will be like nicking an artery and it will slowly bleed me to death.

Officials hope this week's public meetings will get them closer to figuring out the cost and components of the facility.