Walker would be the best central location for a new northwest Georgia YMCA and has community support, Heiskell said.
“It would be a great advantage and great economic development opportunity,” she said. “The governing authority is doing everything we can to bring it here.”
Earlier this year the Catoosa County Board of Commissioners voted against a planned YMCA at Benton Place Campus in favor of allowing Northwestern Technical College and Dalton State College to build a joint satellite campus there.
Funding is the biggest obstacle according to Heiskell, who is working with the YMCA board in Chattanooga.
Walker County officials are eyeballing three to four sites in the Chickamauga area to propose to the area YMCA board.
Heiskell said the YMCA would like 20 acres or more to build a mega-wellness center, similar to the one located on Shallowford Road in Chattanooga, but need at least 11 acres.
“If it were close to the (Chickamauga) Battlefield, that would be ideal,” Heiskell said. “People could ride bikes and walk the trails.”
The board is looking at locations on the west side of Catoosa County, because those on the east side are too close to the Shallowford Road location, according to Heiskell.
“The prospect of it being successful is very good," she said,
North Georgia YMCA director Tripp McCallie said things are still in the dialogue stage, with ideas going back and forth about potential land sites in Walker and Catoosa counties, but “nothing official” has happened yet.
“There is not one location over another in either Catoosa or Walker we are looking at,” he said.
Walker County officials are currently gathering traffic count information and the projected population growth around the proposed site. Included in this consideration are developments like Fieldstone Farms. Fieldstone Farms is under construction on U.S. 27 in Rock Spring and will eventually have about 500 homes.
“We won’t go lower (farther south) than the civic center on U.S. 27, but we want it on a major thoroughfare,” Heiskell said.
Walker, Dade and Catoosa residents would be able to use the facility if Heiskell could secure one of the prospective sites.
Since Hutcheson Medical Center withdrew its $1.5 million dollar pledge, several public-private partnerships will be needed to fund the facility.
Neither Walker nor Catoosa County has special purpose tax funds to go towards the project. Heiskell has contacted OneGeorgia Authority, which was created to assist the state's most economically challenged areas by using part of the state’s tobacco settlement to fund to finance various projects.
McCallie said the YMCA has had one informational-type meeting with Heiskell and do not have others planned right now.
“We are still going to get a new YMCA for North Georgia,” McCallie said.
“It would not be a mistake to put it here,” Heiskell said. “There have been a number of people in different communities in the county contact me and say they want it.