Lexington YMCA is closing and trying to find homes for its horses

After more than six decades, the Lexington branch of the YMCA is shutting down.

The YMCA of Columbia, which runs the branch, announced Friday that it will be closing the facility in Red Bank off of Old Orangeburg Road on Dec. 20.

The Lexington YMCA was founded in 1955 and offered aquatic, sports, child care and other programs.

The number of people signing up for programs has been declining for the last decade. A two-year study by volunteers and staff determined the branch “could no longer sustain operations.”

“We are deeply saddened for the need to close our Lexington Branch,” said Bill Price, who heads YMCA of Columbia. “The programs there have impacted the lives of so many in the Lexington area. Unfortunately, with the cost of maintaining the extensive property, combined with a large decline in use, we are simply unable to continue the operation of the facility.”

The Lexington YMCA sits on 160 acres and houses an equestrian facility.

The horse riding and caring program was “a long-standing favorite of Lexington Y users,” the statement said. “Every effort is being made to make sure the horses receive exceptional care,” as the YMCA looks for new homes for them.

Property being sold

The property is being sold to LandTech, according to the YMCA. LandTech develops residential communities like Lake Carolina, a sprawling community in northeast Columbia where some homes cost up to $2 million.

Employees of the Lexington YMCA will have the option to fill vacant positions at other YMCA of Columbia locations, the organization said. Members can continue their membership at another Columbia YMCA location with no additional cost.

“The Columbia YMCA will remain involved with the Lexington Community with the continuation of its Strengthening Families Program and will continue to explore future opportunities in the greater Lexington area,” its statement said.

Founded in 1854, the YMCA of Columbia was one of the first 50 YMCAs in the United States.

“Throughout our nearly 170 years of existence, we have stayed true to our mission — to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all,” the statement said.

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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.