Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 2, 2014

Two plans discussed

Washington Community Y Board expected to decide March 17
By David Hotle | Mar 07, 2014
Washington Community Y Director Becky Harkema (standing) introduces members of the design team that created two projects to expand the Y. Seated are Doug Zieglar, (center) and Dan Culp of Carl A. Nelson and Associates.

Two plans were unveiled during a special meeting Thursday evening to expand the Washington Community Y. One would leave the Y in its current downtown location while the other would require construction of a new building on land reserved for the proposed Wellness Park.
The Y Board of Directors is expected to decide which plan to pursue during its March 17 meeting. Community members are asked to give input on which plan they prefer to Y director Becky Harkema prior to the meeting. Beginning in May, the Y will begin a capital campaign to raise funds for the project. Plans are being displayed in the Y lobby. Harkema said that she has scheduled a tour of the Indianola YMCA and the Healthy Living Center in Des Moines – both of which were the basis for a new facility — on March 28.  
“As we move forward in the project, I’m sure we will have other community forums,” Harkema said to an audience of about 50 people who attended the second of two meetings to plan the future of the Y.
During a facilities study held in 2012, it was determined that the existing facilities did not provide enough space for expansion of programs. Harkema said that the Y had been borrowing from its endowment to pay for operations. For the sustainability of the Y, the board began investigating expansion.
A community assessment showed that the Y needed a bigger gym and a bigger pool. Other items included more parking, a walking track, and more green space. A feasibility study showed the community to be supportive of the Y and that the facility could raise about $9.6 million for expansion. Harkema said that was the amount that the Y attempted to stay within when planning an expansion.
Doug Zieglar of Carl A. Nelson, a general contracting company, said that the plan to renovate the existing space and add on to the south would cost about $11.6 million.
“There are a lot of challenges here,” said Thad Long of SVPA Architects. “We tried to come up with a plan to fix some of those priorities.”
Long said the plan calls for maxing out the half block to expand the pool and provide new gym space. He said the plan would include a four-lane competition pool with spectator seating and a competition gym. The plan would also expand day care and make it more centralized.
Zieglar said that the plan did not address a walking track, green space or parking. He said the building is a difficult structure to renovate. He said there have been two additions to the original building. The construction calls for the purchase of buildings to the south and for them to be demolished. He also said the mechanical system in the building is outdated and will have to be replaced.  
A new structure at the Wellness Park would come in at $9.6 million, but the downtown facility would still house the day care. During discussion several people in the audience said they wanted to see day care move into the new building. Zieglar said it was a question of space.
The new site would have about 162 parking stalls and a pickup and drop-off area.
“The biggest thing we do during YMCA design is when you walk in the front door and you are standing by the control desk, you want to have what they call the ‘wow’ factor,” Long said. “You want to be able to see the pool and see the gym and feel the cardio and all the stuff that is going on upstairs.”
Long said the pool and the gym in the plan are the exact sizes as they are in the renovation plans. The building also has spaces that will allow for future expansion to include racquetball courts and day care facilities. He said that they weren’t included so the project could meet the $9.6 million budget. He said the plan would address all the priorities the community made for the facility.
The day care program and racquetball courts would remain at the downtown Y building. Part of the building would be renovated for the programs. The remaining parts of the building would be closed off to keep from having to pay utilities on the area.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Mar 08, 2014 16:47

I would suggest that the YMCA divide their capital improvements into three phases. The first phase might include the purchase of buildings to the south of their present location and the expansion of the pool and possibly updating the mechanical system, whatever that entails. Trying do to everything at once may result in failure to accomplish anything. Once the Phase I is accomplished, then Phase II and Phase III could proceed, perhaps over a ten year period or so. Trying to be all things to all people maybe unattainable. Even a nonprofit has to look at cost versus benefit and determine if the program is self-sustaining.



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