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YMCA looking to expand in Dawson
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The Georgia Mountains YMCA is considering Dawson County for future expansion.

Rich Gallagher, YMCA president and chief executive officer, confirmed Tuesday preliminary plans are in the works for a standalone YMCA facility in Dawsonville.

"We have looked at a couple of locations in areas that we believe will be good sites," he said.

Gallagher did not go into detail about the plans, but said he has talked with area officials about the venture.

Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Development Authority of Dawson County, said discussions have been ongoing for several years.

"The effort gained a great deal of momentum when several different developers asked for help attaching a YMCA to this county," he said.

During a joint meeting of the authority and the Dawson County commission in February, Auvermann said the YMCA's local emphasis would be on a youth center and general exercise programs that would not duplicate county parks and recreation offerings.

Over the past couple years, the YMCA worked with Lumpkin and White counties, which are part of the Georgia Mountains eight-county region, to oversee both their parks and recreation departments.

Gallagher said YMCA's mission is to fill gaps, rather than compete with programs.

"What we are doing is investigating where the gaps might be to see how the YMCA can help the city of Dawsonville," he said. "That way we can custom fit a YMCA that meets the community's needs."

The local YMCA storefront center could open as early as 2013, though a standalone building would take at least six more years to develop, Auvermann said.

DCN regional staff contributed to this story.