LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A YMCA in Louisville with low participation is not closing its doors, as a new partnership has emerged, designed to bring more people in.

"We've really struggled with the critical mass of people," said Kenny Hoerter, the YMCA District Executive Director.

The lack of activity left neighbors like Laverne Davis fearing for the Berrytown YMCA.

"The children don't know the programs are over there," Davis said. "Most people do not."

The facility is currently open few hours – just four days a week, from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

But all of that is all about to change.

Berrytown YMCA will join a partnership with Metro Parks. The city is going to take control of the facility and bring the AIR program there, which provides recreational activities for people with special needs.

"The YMCA -- we're extremely excited to partner with metro parks," Hoerter said. "And we're going to expand and enhance programs we're offering to the Berrytown community."

The partnership will see the facility become the Berrytown Recreation Center. 

"We're very excited, because for the first time, we have a true recreation center," said BJ Levis, the Metro Parks recreation administrator. "So the facility is conducive to where we can increase programs, do more accessible programs, and that's huge."

It comes about seven months after neighbors rallied to keep the doors open at the YMCA, after concerns that closing it would impact the Watson Powell Community Center.

Not only will the YMCA stay open under the new partnership with the city, but it will go from just 14 hours a week from Monday to Thursday, to Monday through Friday, opening at 11 a.m.

Plans call for expanding the after-school tutoring program, add a mentoring program, and add an extra night of Kids Café, which provides dinner to some children who might not otherwise have it.

"This is a positive change for this community – the expanded hours, the programs and services,” said Hoerter. "Both organizations are committed to doing more, and to obviously impacting the overall health and wellness of the community."

"It's welcome news to everybody," said Davis. It calms her worries for the neighboring senior center. Meals through the YMCA will remain in tact.

But there are drawbacks for some AIR participants. The program is moving from the Douglas Community Center in the Highlands to the far northeast corner of the county, 30 minutes away. 

"It's a lot of concern for some of our families," Levis said. "So we feel that people will understand when they get there that the facility is so much better for them."

For now, everyone is being cautiously optimistic.

"Anything is better than nothing, and right now we have no activities," Davis said.

The partnership will go into effect on April 4. The Berrytown Rec Center will host an open house April 21st from 6-7:30 so neighbors can see the new services offered.

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