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Design plans unveiled

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Proposed rendition of the YMCA of Southeast Missouri.
SIKESTON -- After nearly four years of research, the YMCA of Southeast Missouri now has its final plans to construct a more family-friendly facility.

"We really have tried hard to do our homework and to make sure that our i's are dotted and t's are crossed," said YMCA Executive Director Jeff Partridge. According to Partridge, the volunteer leadership of the YMCA spent that time following a 20-step process recommended by the National YMCA.

In 2002, the YMCA in Sikeston created a capital development committee, which determined the program needs of the community based on interviews with members of the community.

By 2004, plans and cost estimates were developed. In early 2005, the board commissioned a study to test whether the community would support the new facility and programs.

"We actually did a market study where we tested the facility we were going to have, the programs we were going to have within it to help us determine whether or not we would have a large enough program participation to sustain the operation financially," Partridge said.

That study came back very positive.

"It basically told us, 'If we build it, they will come,'" Partridge said.

In November 2005, the YMCA Board of Directors voted to move forward with plans to expand the current facility.

"This is our biggest project yet, and we see it having a great impact on the quality of our YMCA programs and services," said Tom Robison, chairman of Board of Directors for YMCA of Southeast Missouri. "In addition, we believe the changes to our facilities will provide a venue for a better quality of life for the entire community of Sikeston."

The expansion includes renovating the existing building on Tanner Street and constructing an addition, which will feature a new entrance facing Taylor Street.

"What we wanted our primary focus to be in regards to our facility is very family-friendly," Partridge said about the expansion's design.

As part of renovation, the existing gym will be turned into a youth and family area that will include a computer/game room and youth fitness area. The area where the fitness center is now will be a large aerobics/multi-purpose area.

The new construction will include a fitness center roughly twice the size it is now, a full-size gymnasium with a walking/jogging track which will wrap around the fitness center and gym, an expanded nursery and additional multipurpose classroom space (making a total of four).

"We'll have the capability of having multiple programs and classes going on at the same time," Partridge said.

The new addition will also have a larger lobby area.

"We have no transition areas now. We don't have hallways leading to areas in the building so it causes a lot of problems with overcrowding," Partridge said.

A reception area with two front entrances will allow YMCA staff to control access to all areas of the building in a more efficient manner, Partridge said. And, of course, the biggest attraction of the expansion is the multi-use indoor pool. The pool area will be big enough where it can house competitions but will also have a family fun water feature that will include activities such as a slide, Partridge said. Family changing areas will also be included.

"Basically the pool will be designed in such a way where we can have multiple programs going on at same time. We might have a water exercise class in one section of the pool, preschool swim lessons in another section and a swim team in another area," Partridge said.

Partridge noted the YMCA's expansion can also be done in phases.

When completed, the $6.5 million project will give the YMCA approximately 50,000 square feet in addition to more parking space.

"We know this is an ambitious project," Robison said. "But the need for expansion of these programs and services exist now, and if we wait any longer, the cost will only go up. If not now, when, and if not the YMCA, who?" Once the construction is complete, current membership of 1,700 is expected to triple and 4,000 program participants a year is said to double, Partridge said.

"With this big of project, people are going to want to know that it's going to be successful and that we're going to be able to sustain it," Partridge said. "By going through such a detailed process, we certainly hope we've proved this is possible, and it will be a success."