Mayor Art Freeman is asking city commissioners to visit the Mercer Area Family Education and Wellness (MAFEW) building before deciding what to do with it.
At the Harrodsburg Board of Commissioners meeting held Monday, Feb. 8, Freeman said he had met with officials at MAFEW to discuss building maintenance expenses. He said MAFEW had spent more than $12,000 over the past five years on the building, which was formerly Wilderness Trace YMCA. Most of that money was spent on repairing the boiler, he said. Freeman said MAFEW had recently received a bid of $30,000 to replace the boiler. He said MAFEW is seeking debt forgiveness in the amount of what they’ve spent over the last five years. They are also asking the city to help fix leaks upstairs and where gym connects to older part of the building, which is located at College Street and Broadway.
The city has loaned MAFEW money over the years. Mayor Freeman said MAFEW paid $7,000 in November.
The reaction from the city commission to MAFEW’s request for debt relief was mixed.
“I’d just as soon put the building up and sell it,” said Commissioner Marvin “Bubby” Isham. “We’ve got enough white elephants around town.”
“I don’t know if we could sell that building or not,” Mayor Freeman said. While Ephraim McDowell Health moved a wellness center from the building, MAFEW is expanding enrollment to preschool kids, he said.
Currently, 30 kids are enlisted in the permanent program, Freeman said. He said the city had previously paid plumbing bills for MAFEW. He called it a good recreation center for the neighborhood, but admitted, “I don’t think we’re ever going to get what they owe us.”
Commissioner Scott Moseley said MAFEW, which provides youth sports and after school activities, helps a lot of people in the community and called it “a huge asset.” He called the city’s partnership with MAFEW a “win-win.” While the city paid for the building’s maintenance, MAFEW paid the employees who run the programs.
“It’s just priceless,” Moseley said.
Isham said he didn’t mind paying maintenance. He said MAFEW needed to inform the city beforehand. Both Isham and Moseley said any work performed by the city needed to be bid out.
“When they’re doing something to that building, we’re going to have to require them to run that through us,” Freeman said. He asked to table the request until everyone had visited the facility. He called MAFEW a “worthwhile deal.”