Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1089454

Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 23, 2014

Community input wanted

Two public meetings will determine the shape of the Y in the future
By David Hotle | Dec 06, 2013
During the annual meeting  Thursday, YMCA of Washington County Director Becky Harkema presents board member Dennis Hunger with tokens of the Y’s appreciation for his time on the board.

With the coming of the new year, the YMCA of Washington County (formerly Washington Community Y) is asking the public for input into what the future Washington facility will look like and where it will be located.
During the annual meeting held Wednesday evening, Y board president Edie Nebel told the audience that two public meetings will be held to determine the manner in which the Y will address expansion. The first meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 6 in the YMCA building. The second meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 27. In March, the board of directors will review the results of the public input with a capital campaign to possibly follow as early as May.
“The board of directors identified the Washington facility needs as a priority during our strategic planning process in 2011,” Nebel said.
She said a community survey was done in January 2013 to assess the impact of the Y. The American City Bureau was hired to conduct a feasibility study to identify major gift support and leadership for a capital campaign. A developmental study advisory committee was created for this purpose, made up of 11 community members, which created a list of 50 people to be interviewed during the process. Results were released in September. The board also approved hiring SVPA Architects and Carl A. Nelson and Co. Construction to identify program and facility needs.
Vitus Bering, owner of SVPA, said that his team has been doing building assessments all Wednesday. He said architects, structural engineers and mechanical engineers had gathered data on the existing facility for information on a possible renovation. He said a report would be given on the shell, the mechanical systems and how the building is architecturally. He stressed that no decision has been made into how the building project will be addressed.
“We are going to be getting feedback from the public about what is important to them before we start putting anything down on paper,” Bering said. ‘We want to know their feelings about staying in the existing facility vs. looking at a potential new facility.”
He said that the architects want to know if there are deficiencies in the existing building or if a new building might offer new opportunities. He said that they want to learn more about what programs the community wants to see the Y move forward with. He said that there would be no blueprints at the January meeting. The blueprints will be drawn based on information gathered and be ready for more input at the February meeting.
Dan Culp of Carl A. Nelson said that once the funds are available for whatever construction would be done, that will be when the final design process will start.
Both said that they had worked with several YMCA projects throughout the state, including one together in Fort Madison.
“They all have their own character,” Culp said. “It is a community facility, so every community has different desires and needs and wants. There are some similarities between them, but each one has some uniqueness to them.”
The two recommended that people who wish to give input on a Y project but are unable to attend the meetings should contact the Y to make their feelings known.  
One possibility that has been discussed is to build a new Y on the site of the future wellness park. The city council approved allowing the Y to build there, if that is what is decided.

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