County to draft letter of support for Y

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


While the Washington County Board of Supervisors denied a request for funding to the YMCA of Washington County during its June 9 meeting, the board does plan on supporting the facility.

During its regular meeting on Tuesday, the supervisors unanimously approved drafting a letter of support for the Y to use to leverage an Enhance Iowa grant.

?We are continuing our process with Enhance Iowa,? Y interim executive director Amy Schulte said. ?We have spoken with Nicole Shalla, the administrator of the grant funding and she said we would still be eligible to submit our request to them even without county funding. She thought that a show of support would help.?

Schulte believes there is general support for a new Y in the community without public funding. She asked the supervisors to draft a letter recognizing the benefits the Y brings to the community. The Y plans in July to request $900,000 from Enhance Iowa, the state?s Community Attraction and Tourism grant program to help fund its $9.2 million building project in Washington.

The initial grant request will be submitted before the July 13 deadline, Schulte said, but the letter would not need to be submitted until September.

Supervisor Abe Miller said the county did not have the letter drafted yet, but did not see any reason to delay support for the project.

The previous week, the supervisors unanimously approved not funding a request from the Y for $20,000 of money from the county general fund to the Y for the project. All supervisors said they had received public input requesting they not use taxpayer money to fund the project. Y officials had reported they had $7.9 million toward the $9.2 million project total. During that discussion, the supervisors mentioned the need for a new public health department building and a new safety center as expenses that were coming up quickly.

Previously, the supervisors had rejected a request for $50,000 funding for the Y project, after earlier approving a $10,000 contribution to be made over three years in March 2015. This contribution was also part of an Enhance Iowa, formerly Vision Iowa, grant to show community support.

In May 2017, the YMCA of Washington County Board unveiled a new design for a building to replace the existing 92-year-old building located in the 100 block of East Main Street. A feasibility study on the facility found program spaces were too small for the growing membership and that there were several structural problems with the building. According to the survey, the building itself is structurally sound, but not Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. The Y Board determined it would be more cost-effective to build a new building than to try to renovate the existing building. The Y Board started a fundraising campaign called ?Y ? For a Better Us,? to pay for the construction. The phased building plan is to complete a Phase 1 building with a $3 million Phase 2 addition as soon as fundraising efforts make it possible. The building?s design can also be expanded to include a third phase as well as other future expansions as needed. The plan is downsized from a previous $10.4 million plan.

More information on the project can be found online at