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Monday, Oct. 18, 2021

YMCA Camp Forbing

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Breaking ground on new beginnings

For the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana, everything old really is new again.

The YMCA will break ground on a 30,000- to 45,000-square-foot facility at Camp Forbing Town Center, near the corner of Flournoy Lucas and Ellerbe roads in south Shreveport.

The Y once owned about 50 acres of property at the site. Camp Forbing was home to the Y’s summer camp programs and a swimming pool, among other things. The Y took over operations there in the 1940s from the Louisiana Sunday School Association and operated the camp for 75 years.

The YMCA sold 30 acres of the property in 2014 to developer NewQuest out of Houston. NewQuest built Camp Forbing Town Center, which includes a Kroger grocery store, Silver Star Grille and other retail businesses.

Gary Lash, chief executive officer of the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana, said the organization held on to 20 acres of the property with the intention of returning one day.

That day is now. “We gave up something good to get something great,” Lash said. “It’s an incredible opportunity that we don’t need to miss.”

The new facility will feature a six- to eight-lane, 25-yard pool. Lash said they are discussing whether that pool will be indoors or outside, explaining the 15,000-square-foot variance in the estimated heated space for the new building.

“Programmatically, it’s better to be indoors because we can use it all year round,” he said.

The two-story building will include cardio rooms, a weight room and group classrooms upstairs. Downstairs, there will be a multipurpose room for basketball and classes such as chair pilates for people who prefer not to go upstairs.

The Camp Forbing campus also will include two multi-sport fields placed end-toend behind the Kroger store, Lash said.

The public is invited to the ribboncutting at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 26. Representatives from Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins, the Shreveport City Council, the Caddo Commission, Sen. John Kennedy and Rep. Mike Johnson are scheduled to speak. Inflatables for children also will be onsite during the event.

During the ribboncutting, the YMCA will host soccer and football scrimmages on the site where the new building will be, said Jeffery Goodman, director of marketing for the YMCA.

“We are encouraging entire families to come out,” he said. “It’s going to be a special event.”

Lash said an anonymous donor came forward to get the project started. The YMCA does plan to launch fundraising campaigns to fulfill the project.

The YMCA’s growth plan extends beyond the new Camp Forbing campus. Plans also are underway to build an Outdoor Education Center across Knight Street from the YMCA there.

The 120-acre site, built around a preexisting lake, will include boardwalks and decks to traverse the area, trails, a boathouse and kayak launch, an outdoor amphitheater and education outposts, among other things.

“We have the opportunity to recreate those summer camp adventures and year-round adventures for people in the community,” Lash said.

The Y also plans to renovate the baseball fields that are home to Shreveport Little League. The Y purchased those fields last year with capital outlay funds, Lash said.

Lash said the fields would remain the home of Shreveport Little League. But the improvements, including nine fields with at least some artificial turf playing surfaces, will open the door to tournaments at the facility.

“It took me about two years to work that deal,” he said. “If we don’t get it, it goes south of I-10. We have hotels. We have the restaurants. We just don’t have the venue.”

Lash said one overriding factor drove all of the plans.

“In all of this, we base it on what’s going to be the economic impact,” he said. “That gets people’s attention and support.”

The YMCA’s research, provided by Goodman, estimates an economic impact of $4 million in the first year by hosting 20 tournaments with 50 teams each in that first year.

Lash said the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana is seeing a similar impact already through competitive swimming events at the Knight Street pool. The Y hosted 18 swim meets this year, the last with 300 competitors, he said.

“If you have the facilities, they are coming, and they love it,” he said. “They will come here with a good facility and good competition. That’s what we are counting on with baseball.”

Lash said local involvement also is a big part of all of the Y’s expansion plans.

“There is so much potential in this area,” Lash said. “We just need to recognize it instead of going somewhere else. If we build these things, we’ll have a distinct advantage as far as the travel stuff. But at the same time, more importantly, it will support our local people.”

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