YMCA to move within two years

SANDUSKY Funding for a new YMCA facility is off to a healthy start. Joining with Fire
Annie Zelm
May 24, 2010



Funding for a new YMCA facility is off to a healthy start.

Joining with Firelands Regional Medical Center, theSandusky Area YMCA staff announced plans Thursday torelocate within two years tothe site of the former Memorial Hospital.  

“With this new building, we will be able to provide more services to more people at a lower cost, with more affordable rates,” YMCA executive director Steve Snider said. “This is important to families, and we’re excited to be able to offer more for less.”

The $7.2 million project will involve the fall demolition of the School of Nursing building and two dorms located behind the south campus facility at 2020 Hayes Ave. It also includes the construction of a new behavioral health facility for the hospital at the corner of Hayes Avenue and Buchanan Street.

Board members at the YMCA and Firelands decided on the deal after nearly three years of discussion.

The YMCA had finished a nearly $1 million renovation at the time, and hospital officials were already considering a relocation of their physical and occupational therapy services.

By pooling resources, Snider said, they realized they could accomplish more than each could alone.

The YMCA nearly doubled its membership during the past few years, increasing from 2,200 members to about 4,000 today, he said, and its programs are “growing by leaps and bounds.”

Firelands Regional Medical Center CEO Chuck Stark said the hospital was built upon collaboration and is continuing with that philosophy by working with the YMCA.

A new fitness center will allow the hospital to expand its wellness programs to serve more people — while keeping employees healthy, Stark said.

“As impressive as these buildings are, what’s more impressive is what’s inside those buildings,” he said. “The 42-member board of directors for the hospital made this possible — they had the vision to make this come to fruition.”

The bid process is scheduled to be completed by the first part of 2009, with staff expecting to occupy the building by the middle of 2010.

YMCA board member Roger Gundlach admitted he was initially skeptical of the project.

“Before we started, I played devil’s advocate, pointing out the reasons why this might fail,” he said. “I wanted to make sure they were determined to make it a success, and they were both determined and committed ... so I stand here today glad they proved me wrong.”

Gundlach said the project represents the largest collaborative campaign the community has seen in years.

To date, the board has secured 100 contributors with pledges representing $6.6 million — more than 91 percent of its target goal.

“I know we can raise the next $611,000 by the end of the year,” he said. He said the board is now entering the second phase of its fundraising, with plans to have a group of volunteers collect money within the community.

Though he hopes to have all funding secured by the end of 2008, he said the project is not likely to begin until late spring or early summer because the hospital will need to finish the new behavioral health building and move its staff there before dismantling the old building.

YMCA administrative assistant Barb Butke said the new facility will be on one level, making it more accessible and eliminating wasted space.

The current facility had several unused hallways, as well as excess space in its stairwells and elevators. The proposed facility is smaller at 46,000 square feet, but the space will be better utilized, she said.

“I think this facility will be wonderful, especially for our seniors who won’t have to use the steps and elevators,” Butke said. “I think it will also help us to get more people involved in our programming.”

Board members plan to market the old YMCA building for sale.

The new YMCA facility will:

- Have 46,000 square feet, including gymnasiums, track, wellness center, child care and locker rooms

-Expand services to families, including child care programs, which already serve more than 120 children each day

-Increase effectiveness of aquatics programs with swimming pools shared between the YMCA and the hospital