Superintendent, mayor discuss importance of building YMCA


Gathering for a sunrise fundraising breakfast April 11 in The Club at Chatham Hills’ Sky Ballroom, stakeholders and community members listened to a special presentation concerning the future of the YMCA in Westfield.

First phases of construction are set to begin no later than August at 181st Street and Wheeler Road, according to Westfield Washington Schools Supt. Sherry Grate. The facility will be just west of the WWS intermediate, middle and high school campuses.

In May 2018, the school district entered an agreement with the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis that allows the district to house its aquatic center in the new facility.

“In case you haven’t driven by our main campus where our intermediate, middle and high schools are, there’s a lot going on,” Grate said. “As we were really trying to think about what we were going to do because our enrollment is growing, we knew that we needed more space. In our middle school and in our high school, we had pools. So, as we were beginning to evaluate if we were going to renovate, keep two pools, have one pool, keeping on campus or off site, we wanted to be fiscally responsible. It costs $8-10 million just to renovate each of those pools, and then if we were going to think about building a brand new pool off site, it would be $18-20 million for a natatorium (in addition to the cost of) land.

“At the same time we were evaluating all these different options, I was introduced to Eric Ellsworth (former president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis). What an amazing blessing, because at that same time, we had this opportunity to really create a public/private partnership that would enable us to build a state-of-the-art natatorium and then also allow us to renovate and add the much-needed space of our campus for our learning needs.”

The financial investment for the school district is $15 million, for which bonds were approved in May 2018. The facility will house a state-of-the-art, 50-meter pool with 10 lanes, two bulkheads and a diving well. Grate said construction should be complete by fall 2020 for the district’s swim teams to use.

Westfield Mayor Andy Cook spoke about the city’s need for such a facility.

“There are a lot of (YMCAs), over 2,600 with over 21 million members,” Cook said. “I hear these stories about (having a YMCA) when we were kids, but right now, my kids and grandkids here (in Westfield) can’t say that. I don’t like that. It is time to have the Y here in Westfield.”

Cook said aside from the recently bonded Grand Junction Park and Plaza project, he couldn’t think of another development that has been talked about for such a long time. He cited various reasons for its delay, including the 2008 economic downtown.

“Great things come with patience. We know that with this wonderful partnership with the schools’ natatorium,” Cook said. “The quality of our community is based on how we take care of children, and when we have programming with the Y and use their philosophy, it fits right in, like a hand in a glove, of where we’re going.”

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