The dream, now more than ever before, is closer to becoming reality.
The Brainerd Family YMCA needs only $400,000 to complete its $4 million building expansion project that will double the size of its current facility, a project that could potentially be completed next year.
"What started as a vision five years ago is becoming more of a reality," explained Randy Klinger, YMCA executive director. "We're 90 percent there. What we're hoping is the community will step forward and help complete the last piece."
The YMCA Board of Directors has revised the building plans made three years ago that would have cost about $6.7 million to complete. Klinger said the YMCA board looked at ways to scale back the project and to make the building more efficient. A proposed elevated indoor running track and an additional gymnasium was eliminated from the project.
Klinger said board members and YMCA staff traveled to other YMCA facilities in the state and found that most YMCA members would rather run or walk indoors on treadmills, rather than on an indoor running track. Also, the revised building plans will include an aerobics studio/multipurpose room that will free up half of the current YMCA gymnasium which is used for aerobics classes.
Phase One of the project will be completed by September. The YMCA has hired Nor-son as its construction manager and Architecture One has drawn up plans for the building. Phase One will involve the removal of eight nearby residential homes and the construction of a parking lot and a 1,900 square-foot wellness center where the current day care playground area is located.
Tom Anderson, YMCA board chair, said the YMCA board of directors has decided to not begin construction of Phase Two of the YMCA building expansion project until the remaining $400,000 is raised. It's a decision the fiscally-conservative board made, said Anderson, so that they are certain they can fully fund the project.
"If we had the $400,000 now, we'd start construction immediately," said Anderson.
Phase Two construction is expected to be more of a major undertaking, but Anderson is hopeful that the $400,000 will be raised by this fall or the spring of 2001 so construction can begin.
Phase Two, or the final phase of the project, will include an indoor aquatics center with two water slides, a zero depth entrance pool that will mimic the feel of walking gradually into a lake, and a mushroom-shaped waterfall that will create a fun water park experience for children. The entire building will also be updated and renovated, adding an aerobics studio, main floor locker rooms, a youth center, with a recessed pick-up/drop-off lane on the east side of the building.
Once completed, the Brainerd Family YMCA will be renamed the Lakes Area YMCA Community Center to reflect that its services are used by the entire Brainerd lakes area community.
Over 200 area businesses, organizations and private individuals have donated so far to the building expansion project, including a generous $2 million donation from Fran and Clarence Holden of Nisswa. The YMCA has also received grants for the project, including a recent $400,000 Blandin Foundation matching grant.
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