YMCA asks Westfield to kick in $5M for scaled-back location near Grand Park

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The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis has scaled back its plans for a new location near Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield and it is now asking the suburban city to support the smaller project by kicking in $5 million toward the cost.

In 2018, the YMCA and Westfield Washington Schools announced plans to develop a 65,000-square-foot YMCA branch adjoined to a natatorium at the southwest corner of Wheeler Road and 181st Street. The $15 million Westfield Washington Schools Aquatic Center opened in February, but the pandemic’s impact on fundraising efforts has prompted officials to scale back the proposed cost of the Ascension St. Vincent YMCA from $20 million to $14.5 million.

“We know it’s significant, but we believe—with the return that’s proposed—that it creates a unique opportunity for us to come together and bring this amenity to our community at a time when we need it the most,” Mitch Frazier, chairman of the YMCA’s capital committee, said. “A time when we’re recovering from a pandemic and a time when our city continues to grow rapidly.”

In April 2020, the YMCA said the new location would have a state-of-the-art wellness center, gym, basketball courts, demonstration kitchen and indoor track.  About 5,000 square feet of space would be reserved for services offered by sponsor Ascension St. Vincent.

YMCA of Greater Indianapolis COO Gregg Hiland told the Westfield City Council on Monday that the organization has had to revise its goals due to a slowdown in giving during the pandemic. About $6 million has been raised so far.

“As we were meeting with potential donors in the community and around Indianapolis in general, there was a lot of excitement,” Hiland said. “But these are corporate donors, for the most part. When the pandemic hit, it obviously affected businesses in many different ways.”

Under the new plan, to reduce costs, the YMCA would eliminate a warm-water pool, include one gym instead of two and devote less space to child care.

Hiland later told the IBJ that those elements and plans for an indoor track have been included in a proposed second phase of the project.

“That is disappointing,” Westfield City Council President Mike Johns said of the reduced plan. “When we anticipated a project and the city committed and built the natatorium, it was with a vision of having a Y of x-size next to it. It’s disappointing we’re not going to have what we were anticipating.”

Even with the reductions and $5 million from the city, the YMCA would still be roughly $3.5 million short of project’s revised price tag, Hiland said.

“We believe it’s within 18 to 24 months that we’d be able to close that gap,” Hiland said. “That’s why this gift is so important. It’s a critical juncture for this project. If we can secure this support, we feel that other donors are ready to help us close this campaign out.”

There is no clear timeline for the project’s completion. However, Hiland and Frazier said the council’s gift would still be helpful even if it were given over time.

“A more-condensed time frame is better, but we understand it could be over three, five, seven years,” Hiland said.

Frazier said the YMCA would have an estimated annual economic impact of $5 million and it would create the equivalent of 70 full-time jobs upon completion. It would also bring new childcare services to the city.

Hiland said the YMCA  has requested and received financial assistance from municipalities in the past, including roughly $9 million from the city of Fishers for its $13.5 million YMCA, which opened two decades ago.

Westfield City Council Member Cindy Spoljaric said the city has already contributed infrastructure to the project, but part of the city’s American Rescue Plan disbursement could be put toward the facility.

“We believe this to be critical infrastructure, a platform for partnership and a highly capital efficient approach to bringing this important amenity to our city,” Frazier said.

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3 thoughts on “YMCA asks Westfield to kick in $5M for scaled-back location near Grand Park

  1. If it can’t be done right as proposed and planned, don’t do it at all. The facility will not garner the same care and respect from a public that knows it isn’t as promised.

  2. Let’s don’t be short sighted. Westfield needs long term thinking. Will the proposed Y be beneficial to our future and will we need partnerships like this to keep moving forward? I believe the answers are YES. This has been a trying time, but let’s not lose sight of the goal, to make Westfield a great place to live and work.