Y makes plans to expand
The Washington Community Y is planning to raise money next year in order to expand its facilities, but the question is whether the proposed 45-acre Wellness Park will be part of that expansion project.
During a presentation given Monday, consultant John Biggins, owner and president of the West Dundee-based American City Bureau (ACB), gave the results of a funding feasibility study for the park. During the study, ACB met with area people who were likely to contribute to a project such as the Washington Community Y facility/Wellness Park. During the study, there were three elements to the project — the Washington Community Y facility, the Wellness Park, and a satellite site for the Y in Riverside.
“It was a unanimous vote from the advisory committee to do some open community forums of peoples interested,” said Washington Community Y director Becky Harkema. “Should we expand the current facility or build out by the Wellness Park and what the facility would look like?”
Harkema said that an expanded Y and a Wellness Park would be a great facility for economic growth of the area. She is asking for public input on the manner in which the Y will expand. She plans to put together economic studies for people to compare before making a decision on what to do. The Y will hold public forums to gather information on what the community wants. She hopes to have the results of the study by the end of the year. The capital campaign for the project will start in 2014.
During the study, 47 potential donors were interviewed. The result of the study is the Y in town is very strong and that some kind of capital campaign needs to be done to expand the facilities. It has not been decided if the Wellness Park will be part of the capital campaign.
Discussion has been made about possibly moving the Y out to the Wellness Park site. Harkema said there is a section of the property reserved for a Y building. She said the city council would have to approve the project if the Y moves forward with building on the site. She said the Y wants to work with the city on whatever is decided.
The possibilities, Harkema said, include remodeling the existing Y building, moving the Y facilities out to the Wellness Park site, or having a satellite building at the park. She believes the Y will be a “kickoff” to help the Wellness Park progress.
“Right now where we sit, the program space is not adequate,” Harkema said. “We are not going to grow with revenue unless we make changes with the facility.”
The Y, the City of Riverside, the Washington Park Board and the Washington County Riverboat Foundation funded the study.
Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said that while donors want to see the Y facilities addressed first, there is plenty of interest in both the Y and the Wellness Park.
“We found there is a good level of interest in doing that, and there are a lot of people who like the pairing of the projects and would be willing to donate more if the projects were combined,” Hinson said.
He said that he is uncertain of what role the city would play in the building of the Wellness Park. While he said initially the city had said it would acquire the land and nothing more, Hinson feels that a majority of council members believe the city would want to see significant results before the city would offer any further assistance.
“I think if you look at the overall investment, I think the vast majority of the investment in the Wellness Park has been from the city,” Hinson said. “I really think there has to be a lot more proven and this project has to move along significantly and have a lot of support shown before there will be any further commitment from the city.”
The City purchased 90 acres of land north of town from the Washington School District and traded the land for another plot. The idea is for that land to serve as the Wellness Park.