YMCA asks Westfield City Council for $5 million in ARPA funds


The Westfield YMCA asked the Westfield City Council for $5 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds during the council’s Feb. 14 meeting. The request is more than half of the $9.8 million Westfield received from ARPA funds.

It isn’t the first time the YMCA has requested $5 million from the council. Westfield YMCA Capital Campaign Chairperson Mitch Frazier first approached the council in June 2021 asking for donations, but the council didn’t vote on the request at the time. The YMCA has struggled to raise the $16 million needed to build a proposed new facility, $6 million of which has been raised to date. Frazier said the YMCA was considered critical infrastructure, making it an ideal recipient of ARPA dollars.

It is a place for this community to come together,” Frazier said. “Our Y is far more than a gym. It’s far more than a pool. It’s a place where people can come together. We need a place to come together. Never in history has there been a more important time for us to create a place for people to come together.”

Frazier said the YMCA is “extremely capitally efficient,” and that the city couldn’t build and operate a similar building for only $5 million.

“If the city were to build a community center, you could perhaps possibly do that for $5 million, but what couldn’t be done is long-term operations and maintenance,” Frazier said. “If you look at what it takes to run a facility of that size, even if we just look at the overhead – people, place – it’s real dollars. The ask we have is one of investment in critical infrastructure. It’s on us to operate it and it’s on us to staff it.”

During the recent meeting, YMCA of Greater Indianapolis President and CEO Gregg Hiland said many municipal entities partner with YMCAs across the state. He said when constructed, the Westfield YMCA will include a fieldhouse, exercise studios, wellness centers, child care rooms, a teaching kitchen and a chapel. A natatorium, constructed in part with Westfield Washington Schools, has already been built at the future site of the YMCA at 851 E. 181st St.

Hiland said there is no higher priority for the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis than to finish the Westfield YMCA.

The Westfield YMCA was originally expected to cost $20 million but was scaled down when capital campaign organizers realized it was unlikely to raise that much money. Now, the project is expected to cost $16.5 million. Approximately $6 million has been raised.

If the council awards ARPA funds to the YMCA, Hiland said he is confident the capital campaign can raise the remaining $5 million. But if the council doesn’t commit the dollars to the YMCA, Hiland said he’s unsure if the project can come to fruition. Also, if the city grants the dollars to the YMCA, it will allow the YMCA to return to the design phase. He said the design phase could take several months, and the permitting process also could take several months, both of which must occur before construction can begin.

The Westfield YMCA is proposed to include a 5,000-square-foot medical office building, 37,000 feet of YMCA space and potential partnerships with higher education organizations.

Westfield Mayor Andy Cook spoke in favor of granting $5 million to the Westfield YMCA.

“Having a facility like a YMCA in our town also gives us another tool on how we can sell this community,” Cook said. “I spend a considerable amount of time talking to prospective investors – be it residential, be it commercial. Of course, they’re attracted here because we have things. We have trails and we have Grand Junction, and we have Grand Park. We always get around to ‘that’s great, but talk to us about the fabric of your community and how do you take care of people in your community? Talk to me about your nonprofits.’

“A lot of these major companies that are looking at us, they want to get involved in the community. A YMCA just absolutely fits what we need here.”

The Westfield City Council expects to vote on the request later this month. ARPA funds must be obligated by 2024 and spent by 2026.