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YMCA Milton facility could be scaled back because of area’s sluggish economy

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
June 21, 2010
— The YMCA of Northern Rock County is making strides to become a permanent fixture in Milton, but a sluggish economy could curb the group’s plans for a full-service fitness and activity center at Crossridge Park, CEO Tom Den Boer told the Gazette.

In 2008, the Y bought a five-acre parcel at the 43-acre Crossridge Park, with plans to build a 60,000-square-foot, full-service YMCA facility by 2013.


Officials said the $12 million to $15 million facility would house a fitness center, a gymnasium and an aquatic center, and it would include day care and a senior center. It would be in tandem with a larger plan by the city of Milton and the YMCA for an activities complex at Crossridge Park, which is located between Parkview Avenue and Highway 26 on the city’s south side.


Now, amid a lingering economic downturn, YMCA officials are considering scaling back their plans, Den Boer said.


He said the Y now is considering a 20,000- to 30,000-square-foot YMCA that would offer the same services and activities as a larger facility, with one key difference: It would include a pool or a gym—but not both.


Den Boer said the Y is still in the financial planning and fundraising phase for the Crossridge Park YMCA. He said the Y would need $5 million to $7 million in place to start the project.


“Under normal economic times, raising capital is always a challenge. During these times, it may be that it’s a slower ride getting there,” he said.


The Y could decide within six months whether it will opt for scaled-back plans for the Crossridge Park YMCA, but it would have the option to add to the facility later, Den Boer said.


For now, officials said, the Y plans to expand its current branch in Milton—a leased storefront at the north end of the Piggly Wiggly building at 701 S. Janesville St.


The expansion could be finished in mid-July and will combine building space from a former tanning salon next door, adding 1,200 square feet to the branch. Den Boer said it will add space for health and fitness programs that community surveys have shown residents want.


“I would say it’s more than a stopgap. It’s a way for us to address a current need,” Den Boer said, adding that he prefers to think of the expansion as a “bridge to the future.”


Also, Den Boer said, youth athletic fields planned at Crossridge Park are on pace to open as early as this fall.


The expansion at the Piggly Wiggly location doesn’t mean the Y is backing away from plans for a new facility at Crossridge Park, Den Boer said.


“We’re not tabling this. We’re not taking two or three years off,” Den Boer said. “We’re meeting at least three times a month.”


He said as the Y plans the new facility, it’s “cautiously and financially moving along at a very methodical pace.”


But the Y can’t be too methodical with its plans. Under a previous agreement with the city, the Y must start construction on the new YMCA by 2013. If that doesn’t happen, the city would have the option to buy back the property at Crossridge Park.


Den Boer said he’s confident the Y can still meet the 2013 deadline.


“With a major lead gift, we’d be done (fundraising) by the end of 2011 or early 2012,” he said.



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