Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 19, 2018

Kalona Community Center opens today

Over 50 new YMCA members signed up during Saturday’s open house, ribbon cutting
Aug 27, 2018
Photo by: Grace King Eric Robbins tries out the new chest press machine while Broghan Asby watches during the Kalona Community Center open house on Saturday, Aug. 25.

By Grace King, Golden Triangle News Service


KALONA — The opening of the $5.3 million Community Center in Kalona Saturday was a dream come true for city counselors and the community alike, who came out in droves to show their support.

A pickup basketball game christened the gymnasium — which the former facility could fit inside, said City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh. On the second-floor track, people were already power walking or leaning against the railing just taking in the sights. In the weight room, people were testing out state-of-the-art equipment: Climbing stairs, doing chest compressions and trying to get the right rhythm going on the rowing machines.

The turnout Saturday proved the community’s support for the building, a project that has been in play since the comprehensive plan of 2010. “They are supporting it for their children,” said city counselor Jeanelle Bender. “I want to thank the community for being behind us. It’s a good draw for new families.”

The building is on the site of the current city hall at 511 C Avenue. The new building will be a place for the YMCA, Performance Therapies, city offices, offices for Washington County Sheriff’s deputies, Elements and the English River Watershed. The YMCA weight and exercise room will be open to members 24/7. The building also will be available for use by the school district.

“There’s always an opportunity for our kids to get a workout in,” said Daren Lambert, a Mid-Prairie Middle School teacher and high school head boys basketball coach. “The equipment in here is top of the line. There is no excuse not to work out here. I would have loved to have this when I was a kid.”

Indeed, the building was inviting. “You actually want to be here,” said city counselor Craig Spitzer, who had just signed up for a YMCA membership along with at least 50 other people from the community.

During the open house, Luke Newton watched over his four-year-old son Sam Newton as he climbed on one piece of equipment and then the next. “It’s a nice backup space for athletics for the school,” Luke said.

As a father, Luke was excited about the opportunity the building presented for family fitness. “It’s the next step in making Kalona better,” he said, adding that he was part of the design team that redid downtown Kalona in 2010 and watched as the plan for the Community Center fell into place.

George Schaeffer sat on a rowing machine, smiling widely at all the activity around him. “It’s impressive, good for drawing people to the community,” he said. His wife Anne Schaeffer is looking forward to the classes and programs the Y will be offering, which includes kickboxing, yoga, spinning, pickleball and a general meeting space for the community.

Cheyann Adamson, Rec Director, said the building will be a safe environment for students to come after school and be active rather than sitting at home playing video games or getting into trouble.

Adamson’s job is to keep people happy and satisfied, a task she was undaunted by. “The Y is for everyone,” she said.

“Everybody wants amenities,” said Washington County Supervisor Bob Frahm, who assisted the city with grants. “When people are looking to buy property, they’re looking at amenities, especially younger people. This will help make the downtown more desirable.”

As everyone readied themselves for the ribbon cutting, Schlabaugh looked to the future, saying, “This building has taken on a new role to make it usable for another 80-plus years.”

The building project was funded by a bond passed by the community and grants from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation and from the state.

The Community Center officially opened Monday, Aug. 27.

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