Benjamin Barnes Ymca

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Sarah Kimball Stephenson

Former Tuscaloosa City Council President Harrison Taylor is leading the charge to build a new facility for a YMCA branch in Tuscaloosa. The existing Benjamin-Barnes YMCA branch was built in the early 1960s.

After almost 80 years, it needs some renovation. Last week the facility did not have air conditioning or hot water. These problems are being addressed, but hearing about this reignited Taylor’s crusade to revamp the local YMCA.

Taylor said that when he was on the Tuscaloosa City Council, they had set aside some funding for the project and contacted local companies who were interested in supporting the effort. But he thinks priorities changed at some point, and the ball was dropped.

Taylor said he hopes to generate enough interest from the community to get the ball rolling again. He also thinks the main YMCA downtown needs to offer support.

“I think the main YMCA downtown is gonna step up and get involved and be more, I would say share more of what’s going on,” Taylor said.

The Barnes branch is on the west side of town, in a predominately black community. Taylor suggests the discrepancy between the upkeep of the main YMCA and the branch is because people of color are not represented on the financial committee.

This means funds are more often allocated to projects in majority white areas, like downtown, Taylor said.

“Look at the banks,” Taylor said. “The main banks and the branches, you can’t tell the difference. Both of them is top class. I know the main YMCA is a new building. Now it’s time to look at a new branch building.”

Taylor estimates the project will cost about $2 million. He believes it will be worth it because of the value the YMCA has provided the community in the past. He says he wants that great resource to be available for young people in the future.

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