The Mahaska County YMCA has been serving the Oskaloosa and the Mahaska County area since 1896. It’s been housed at the current location for the last 50 years at 414 N Third Street. Recently, the YMCA along with the City of Oskaloosa and the Oskaloosa Community School Board have sought out to improve facilities by relocating and building.
The current building has 42,000 square feet and is equipped with a weight room, cardio studio, gymnasiums, exercise rooms, racquetball courts and a 4-lane 25-yard pool. Plenty of activities that are held at the Mahaska County YMCA include after school programs, various weight, dance or aerobic classes and youth sports.
In addition to the occupied building on Third Street, they provide early childhood services in the former Webster School building and the Kids Corner Child Care building. The YMCA operates the largest early child care program in the community and is the administrative leader in the 4-year old preschool partnership program.
All three of the buildings combined, the facility maxes out at around 74,000 square footage. With the capacity that the YMCA’s after-school program is at they are overflowing with families and children on a waiting list to get on.
“With this project wrapping up the conceptual design,” Michael Schrock, City Manager, said. “The next phase of the project is schematic design.” To move into this phase fully, money needs to be spent.
Within the schematic design includes meeting with financial advisories and attorneys to lock in the 28E agreement, said Schrock.
The new host site of the YMCA will be located on Green Street near the Lacey Recreation Complex. The projected cost of the new facility is set currently at $19.65 million, and square footage is set around 60,000.
Tom Richardson, School Board President, questioned how they would manage to operate efficiently using 15,000 less square feet.
The lack of adequate space, aging facilities and increasing maintenance have all proven to be difficult to keep up with. With the restraint on expanding and adding membership, the YMCA has not been able to generate enough revenue to sustain the facility, repairs and operational development.
“We don’t know if we can afford a two floor facility,” continued Schrock. “We are more interested in providing the right amount of square footage and amenities.” As the list of the desired amenities were read off to the board members , Schrock added, “There’s a whole laundry list, actually.” The essential amenities, however, include the gymnasiums, aquatics and child care.
The amenities that are noted in the conceptual massing plans include a gymnasium, youth gym, locker rooms, aquatics, community or multi-purpose room, kids zone, playground, and a child care center. Future expansion on intended areas will be possible with the conceptual design of the building.
The big question with this project is the price tag, but the bigger question is how will this almost 20 million dollar project be funded. The revenue generated from a 20-year local sales tax referendum, portions of a one-cent infrastructure tax from the Oskaloosa Community Schools, grants, and various donations will pay for the construction of the YMCA. The need to fundraise and secure two to three million dollars in grants or other sources is imminent.
As Schrock thumbed through possible slides of what different components of the YMCA facility will look like, all board members in attendance seemed to be in agreeance that they would like to see a conservative yet modern approach to the appearance of the new building.
By building a new facility, the YMCA has the opportunity to grow and expand internally. Membership units is an important part to their livelihood. A membership unit could be an adult, couple, family, senior, college, or youth members.
YMCA Board Member, Debbie Guild, shared the prospective growth that the Mahaska County YMCA is hoping to see. Having new facilities built with amenities the YMCA would expect to see 1,025 new memberships. “In the first year, we could see a member growth of 500 units…,” Guild said. “That’s 50 percent in the first year, 30 percent in the second and 20 percent in the third.”
“I think there’s a sense in the community that this, at least to my friends, that this project has died. so i just ask us all to try to spread this to your peer groups and help reignite enthusiasm for it again,” said Guild.
The City of Oskaloosa, the Oskaloosa Community School District and the YMCA Board will all look towards Gro Development to revise the conceptual plan and establish the schematic design documents, as well as bid letting and general contractor selection.