YMCA revamps fundraising strategy for Pike Township

The Fishers YMCA has expanded. A new YMCA in Avon is open. And the Fort Benjamin Harrison YMCA in Lawrence will have a new outdoor pool by summer.

The only piece missing from a $30 million campaign that began in 2007 to expand or build YMCAs across metropolitan Indianapolis is a new, full-service facility in Pike Township.

YMCA of Greater Indianapolis hoped to break ground next to Snacks Crossing Elementary School at 56th Street and Lafayette Road this year. But officials say they've raised just $2.5 million of the $10 million needed to build the facility. The Pike Township school district, which owns the site, has extended the deadline for groundbreaking to June 2014.

A new facility in Pike Township has been promised since the YMCA closed its Fall Creek branch in 2003. The current Pike YMCA consists of a storefront gym at 71st Street and Georgetown Road, where membership is said to be strong.

Spokeswoman Tangela Floyd said the YMCA is looking into partnerships with health care organizations that could speed up the process. She noted that the Avon YMCA, which opened last May with multiple pools and a climbing wall, was on the drawing board for years before a partnership with Hendricks Regional Health created the needed momentum.

“Collaborations like these create excitement in the community, help lower our overall costs and gives the Y even more credibility as a primary catalyst for health and wellness in our city,” she said in an e-mailed statement. “We feel securing a health care partner can significantly reduce the time needed to raise funds for this project.”

YMCA chief executive Eric Ellsworth had hoped to complete funding for the Pike location by the end of 2010. Despite missing the goal, the organization isn’t lowering its ambitions. Rather, it has added two more buildings to the drawing board—one in the northeast-side neighborhood known as the Meadows and one at City Way, the city-backed apartment-hotel-retail project at Delaware and South streets downtown.

Those two projects, along with the Pike Township project, will be funded with a new $40 million campaign dubbed “Strengthening the Heart of the City: The YMCA Campaign for Urban Indianapolis.”

YMCA executives were not available for comment, but Floyd said in an e-mailed statement that with a new focus on building inside the Interstate 465 beltway, “we have a stronger case for the YMCA’s impact on the larger community … and a stronger case for our fundraising efforts.”

Meanwhile, the YMCA in September opened its Indy Bike Hub inside the City Market downtown, less than six months after announcing plans for it.

The YMCA’s relatively quick turnaround on the bike hub, which was part of a $3.5 million renovation of City Market, has prompted questions from Pike residents, said James Perkins, who is chairman of the Pike YMCA and the school district’s wellness and athletic director.

“I don’t see any less energy or effort being given to it by the YMCA,” Perkins said of the Pike project. “You have to give the YMCA credit for taking time to do it right.”

Floyd said in an e-mailed statement that the recent improvements downtown presented an “undeniable opportunity to collaborate with private developers, the city, nonprofit organizations and others.”

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