YMCA, Westfield schools plan $35M branch, natatorium near Grand Park

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The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis and Westfield Washington Schools have reached a preliminary agreement to develop a $35 million YMCA branch and natatorium on 10 acres of land just south of Grand Park Sports Campus.

The development, proposed for the southwest corner of Wheeler Road and 181st Street, could be started in spring 2019 and open in fall 2020 if approvals are received and fundraising goals are met, YMCA and school officials said Thursday. The city is expected to contribute infrastructure improvements at the site.

Under the plan, the YMCA would fund up to $20 million for the 65,000-square-foot branch and the school district would contribute $15 million for an Olympic-size natatorium with a 50-meter pool—twice the size of Westfield High School’s aging pool.

The Wheeler Family, which owns the nearby Westfield Airport, has agreed to donate the land for the project, the school district said.

The branch would include basketball courts, a family pool, indoor running track and other fitness facilities found in most YMCAs. It is expected to attract about 12,000 members.

Spokeswoman Christy Glesing said the YMCA has already launched a fundraising campaign and is close to securing a lead gift. She declined to identify the amount or the source.

The natatorium would be used by the school district for practice, competition and physical education classes. It would also be available to YMCA members.

The district and the city are discussing other possible uses, including making it available for Grand Park-related events on a leased basis.

In a letter sent Thursday to parents in the school district, Superintendent Sherry Grate said entering the partnership with the YMCA and building the facility made more sense than maintaining current pools at the high school and Westfield Middle School.

“Cost estimates indicate that maintaining our pools at both WMS and WHS could cost up to $10 million per pool with no upgrades; that is simply for maintaining what we have and does not include operational costs,” she wrote. “To improve our facilities to 6A level, the cost would be roughly $20 million for just Westfield High School. The future of our aquatics program is a priority for our district and because of those financial demands, this potential partnership with the YMCA is a great community-wide solution.”

Grate said the cost of the project would not change the district’s debt service rate and force the need for a referendum.

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