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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Plans for YMCA expansion under way

Thursday, August 26, 2004

An interior plan
SIKESTON -- In order to create a more family-friendly environment and meet increased membership goals, the YMCA of Southeast Missouri is looking to expand its current facility as early as 2007.

Although the expansion is only in the planning stages, Jeff Partridge, executive director of the YMCA of Southeast Missouri, said the proposal comes from long-range goals created by the YMCA Board of Directors in 2002.

"One of our major goals is to have membership reach 3,500 people," Partridge said. Currently, the YMCA serves about 1,700 members, and Partridge said it's already at its capacity.

"Those who come here often, especially in the winter months, know how tight parking is, and program-wise, during peak times, all the rooms are in use," Partridge noted. To reach the membership goal, the current building will simply not do, Partridge said.

YMCA of Southeast Missouri Board of Directors Chair Robert MacGillivray agreed, saying the Sikeston organization has had tremendous growth over the past nine years.

"Our current facility is adequate for the present time. However looking five years down the road, we want to have a full functioning Y servicing all families of Sikeston and the surrounding areas," MacGillivray said.

Following a 20-step process recommended by the National YMCA, the YMCA in Sikeston created a capital development committee, which determined the program needs based on interviews with members of the community.

"We're not just building a facility -- we've used information gathered in previous steps to help determine how to actually design the facility," Partridge said.

The committee has also worked an agreement with the City of Sikeston to lease the property directly north of the facility -- where the city pool is located -- for 99 years. In addition, the YMCA could also collaborate with the Sikeston R-6 School District, which owns the north end of the block, where New Horizons School is located, sometime in the future.

The conceptual plan proposes a 50,120-square-foot facility that includes a family gym, indoor swimming pool, expanded wellness center and increased multi-use programming space. "We're not going to build a facility that's too big and too costly for us to operate," Partridge assured. "And we're not going to build something that's going to put us in tremendous debt to get it built. We will build what our community can support."

In fact, the No. 1 priority -- in planning both the facility and the programs within it -- is family, Partridge said.

"We want to make sure the facility design is family-friendly so kids and parents can be here together," Partridge said. "They can come at the same time and always have something to do."

For example, a youth fitness center is something that could be developed as a part of the youth and family gym, Partridge said. Regular family nights could make use of the pool in the family gym, and year-round aquatic instruction could be possible as well.

"Really the possibilities are endless," Partridge said. Plans to expand are not just about the facility's design but the programs the YMCA offers, Partridge pointed out.

Past YMCA Board of Directors Chair and YMCA member John Rowland agreed.

"Besides the fact the Y is bulging at the seams in the current facility, what most attracted me to it is programs," Rowland noted. "It's not so much about the facility itself but the programs the Y provides to the community."

Rowland said sports programs and others at the YMCA emphasize not winning or losing, but instill values like caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. Plus the YMCA is open to everybody -- it turns no one down, he added. Of course, the extravagance of the facility depends on the amount of funding the YMCA has, and sometime in the near future the YMCA will look to the community for funding, Partridge said.

"We do not have a capital campaign goal at this point, but we are working on a projected operating budget for the new facility as well as estimated campaign goals for as many as three different scenarios," Partridge said.

The way the YMCA's conceptual plan is designed -- and depending on the funding received -- the expansion can also be done in phases, Partridge noted.

"In the not too distant future we will be conducting a feasibility study to determine how much funding we can actually raise. Then the committee will go back and select which scenario works best," Partridge explained. "A fund-raising campaign goal will be set depending on the funding we feel we can generate."

Partridge said the YMCA has received a tremendous amount of community support to this point.

"If Sikeston really wants the YMCA to continue, we need capital development -- not only for this project, but for the future," Partridge said.

Since 1995 the YMCA has served the Sikeston community, and in 1997 the YMCA purchased the property where the facility currently operates and renovated the building.

"The YMCA is one of the best things and great values for Sikeston and the people in Sikeston," Rowland said. "It's already a value, but if we're able to expand to a larger facility -- that's all more of a plus and value for the community."