By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
Washington City Council member Steve Gault said during the regular city council meeting Tuesday that he understands why the YMCA of Washington County wants to build a new building in Washington as opposed to renovating the existing building.
During time at the end of the meeting for council members? comment, Gault said he had the chance to tour the existing Y building, and was even shown the infrastructure of the building. He described it as being far outdated. As a maintenance worker at the University of Iowa, Gault said that he knows what he is looking at when dealing with buildings.
?All I have to say is ?oh my God,?? he said. ?And there is no fixing it. it would be $4 million just to get it up to code before you start doing anything else.?
While he said he had supported the idea of the Y getting a new building, he also stressed he didn?t feel Washington taxpayers should pay for the new Y building.
Gault encouraged other council members to have a look inside the Y building. He described the boilers in the building as being ?as old as Fran (Stigers) and I put together.? He said when they turned on it sounded like a plane taking off. He said the pipes in the pool have been lined twice and can?t be lined again. He also said an area under the pool is full of water because the pool leaks. He also said even if the Y wanted to fix the pool, it would have to tear down half the building to get the existing pool out.
?I understand where they are coming from,? Gault said. ?In the past there have been large amounts of money donated by people in this town who have made their money off the backs of people in this town and maybe they need to do something about it.?
Over $3.5 million has been raised for the Y?s project to construct a new building on a section of land that will soon be used to construct the city?s wellness park.
In May, 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.
With plans to break ground on the building in the summer of 2018, the Y Board has 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.
Phase 1 of the project includes a full-size high school gymnasium that includes a spectator area, wellness center, two exercise rooms, youth room, and senior gaming area. The entrance will be on West Sixth Street and North D Avenue. The entrance was designed this way due to concerns about children having to cross the busy West Third to get to the facility.
A six-lane swimming pool is planned for Phase 2 of the project. While the Y board and staff understands the need for a pool, Schulte said in a previous interview, the result of input from the community was for the pool to be in the second phase of the project.
More information on the project can be found online at www.buildwashingtonymca.com.