Former DSS building set to be sold to YMCA

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Aug. 6—HENDERSON — Vance County earlier this week moved forward in the process to sell the old Department of Social Services building at 350 Ruin Creek Road to neighboring Henderson Family YMCA.

The Vance County Commissioners' Properties Committee had already passed a recommendation for the sale last week before the full board moved on Aug. 1 to enter further negotiations with the YMCA and authorize the county attorney and manager to develop an offer to purchase and contract for future board approval.

YMCA's offer was $1 million — $100,000 less than than that of competing bidder Vaya Health's. The appraised value of the 20,000-square-foot building is $1,180,000.

The board's motion to move forward with the sale was made by Commissioner Archie Taylor and seconded by Commissioner Gordon Wilder. The vote passed 4-2 with commissioners Carolyn Faines and Yolanda Feimster voting no.

Commissioner Dan Brummitt, who serves on Vaya's regional board, said that despite awarding the building to the YMCA, Vance County needed to address mental health concerns.

Vaya oversees Medicaid, federal, state and local funding for services and support related to mental health, substance use disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"We're very fortunate that we have two organizations that serve our community that are vying for this building," Brummitt said, "and it looks like based on the deliberation of the committees and so forth, that the interest is in moving with the YMCA. I'm fine with that but what I want for us to pay attention to is that we had 564 involuntary commitments in Vance County last year.

"A number of those were youth. The resources it takes to handle those with the current format of taking them to the hospital and police officers or deputies having to sit with them tie up hundreds of thousands of dollars of resources each year. We need to make an effort to support Vaya."

There had been some concern by board members that Vaya's offer included a request that the county act in good faith to secure alternative funding that could be used to offset operational or upfit costs.

"Vaya, as you all know, would like to use it for a regional diversion center for behavioral and mental health," County Manager Jordan McMillen said. "And then the YMCA has talked about renovating it for a few years for a dedicated space for their youth services and to expand their summer camp and existing youth programming. There was a great deal of conversation at the committee level between the two offers. There was some conversation around the unknowns from the Vaya offer, particularly around the good faith efforts to identify funding and what that looks like."

Faines said she was "excited" the YMCA won the bid but echoed Brummitt's concerns about mental health while also asserting that the YMCA's paid membership would be a barrier for some.

McMillen recited the YMCA's assurance that "well over 60%" of its summer camp program participants are non-members.

Feimster wanted more information about both proposals, which were considered last week by the three-person Properties Committee of Taylor, Brummitt and Board Chairman Leo Kelly Jr.

Correction: The original version of this story has been corrected to show that Vaya's offer did not exceed the appraised value of the building.