Ferriday gym battle coming close to an end

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 26, 2002

FERRIDAY, La. &045; It’s taken a while, but the confounding battle over the future of the old Florida Street gym appears to be nearing its end.

Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin met with aldermen, members of the Recreation District No. 1 Board and YMCA Steering Committee attorney Lloyd Love Monday night to discuss the town’s recreation crisis.

The informal discussion yielded no concrete plans, but it was the first time representatives from all sides of the issue sat down and talked.

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&uot;Nothing was done,&uot; said Love, a founding member of the recreation board and outspoken critic of the lack of activity in that area, &uot;but the air was cleared. I got a good feeling. The general feeling is that there is so much that can be done with recreation in this area.&uot;

Ferriday Alderwoman Dorothy Johnson reported a similar spirit of cooperation.

&uot;We had a good discussion,&uot; she said. &uot;That was the first meeting of the minds.&uot;

Such optimism is a drastic departure from what has been an acrimonious debate.

Ferriday spend close to $100,000 last year to renovate the old gym with the intention of handing over operations to the YMCA of Central Louisiana.

Everything was set to go: the town and the recreation board had each pledged $75,000 over the next three years. The YMCA would provide an additional $75,000.

But, for reasons that are still unknown, the recreation board never paid up.

The steering committee sued. In August, Judge Leo Boothe ordered the board to make good on its commitment.

In the meantime, state Rep. Bryant Hammett, D-Ferriday, had secured a $50,000 grant from the state Legislature for operating the Florida Street gym, and the steering committee had received $60,000 from the state Department of Social Services for Y-related programs.

But until this week, there was no progress and little communication.

One of the main obstacles, Love opined, was that no one was willing to surrender control of the project.

&uot;We had too many generals who want to be commander-in-chief,&uot; he said. &uot;That was the problem in the beginning. But the general feeling is that what happened is behind us. We’re going to go forward.&uot;

But at Monday’s meeting, it appeared that all sides were willing to compromise in order to provide productive activities to a generation of young people with limited recreation options.

&uot;Everyone wants to move in a positive direction for recreation in Ferriday,&uot; Love said. &uot;With that attitude, there’s nothing that can’t be accomplished.&uot;

Johnson said the three sides will meet again after the recreation board and steering committee vote on a definite course of action.

&uot;We’re working it out,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;We’re very optimistic.&uot;