Changes coming with the opening of the Y

Friday, February 22, 2013

The opening of the Monett Area YMCA's new building represents so many changes in the social structure of life in Monett that it's hard to know where to begin.

Swimming in the winter. Who in years past would have believed it?

People lining up to use exercise equipment. In a culture of obesity and sedentary living, to see people getting excited about exercise boggles the mind.

A huge parking lot that's been mostly full for an entire week. When you count the parking lots in Monett, the same time you're counting elevators, it's one of the bigger ones.

Jeff Meredith, executive director for the Monett Chamber of Commerce, put his finger on one of the Y's biggest impacts.

"As for networking, I saw people from all the major industries at the Y," Meredith said. "That's where I need to be, where a lot of the decision-makers are."

The main argument in favor of Monett's golf course over the years was a large number of Monett's movers and shakers could be found out on the links in the late afternoon.

Golfers will still enjoy their game, but they may be found at the Y as well, and be easier to find at that.

That may hold more universally true than anyone can guess now. Sooner or later, everyone is likely to be found at the Y.

It will take a while for the traffic patterns at the Y to take shape. Driving through South Park may stay the preferred route during the day when traffic on Highway 37 makes turning difficult. The long-term impact of that much traffic on the park's asphalt roads remains to be seen. Let's hope we don't start having collisions in the park or vehicles ending up in Sportsmen's Lake due to young drivers hot-dogging around the loop.

Seeing so many happy people congregating at the Y this week made any community leader swell with pride. It's been a long time coming. It took enormous fundraising efforts, the kind needed to build Monett's hospital, a flexing of muscle that only happens once a decade or so.

Those who organized to create the Monett Family Center 10 years ago saw big disappointment when voters rejected a sales tax to build a similar facility. But those dreamers have to feel vindicated today.

The dream came true, with big hearts and open hands holding private donations of all sizes.

Now it's our pleasure to enjoy the results.