Westside Y planned at Ivy Tech
Child care center a key component of facility proposed for Ivy Tech land
By Dann Denny
It’s not a done deal, but plans are moving ahead for a new YMCA and child care center on Bloomington’s northwest side.
At its regular meeting Tuesday, Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington’s regional board of trustees passed a resolution pledging to Ivy Tech’s state board of trustees its support of a joint venture to build a new YMCA and child care facility on Ivy Tech’s main campus.
John Whikehart, Ivy Tech’s Bloomington chancellor, said the partnership between the school and the YMCA is a logical one, adding that it will provide quality child care and wellness programs for the community and the college’s students, faculty and staff.
“What more natural collaboration could there be than Ivy Tech with our mission as a community college and the YMCA with its desire to provide services to the northwest part of the community,” he said.
Whikehart said the new facility would remove what many find is a key barrier to education — convenient child care.
“With this joint venture, Ivy Tech can provide more services to students and help the YMCA assist in the development of healthy families in the community,” he said.
Roberta Kelzer, the YMCA’s executive director, said the project stems from the Y leadership listening to the community’s expressed desire for a facility on the northwest side of Bloomington that would be more convenient for them than the main facility on South Highland Avenue.
“We are excited about meeting the needs of the northwest community, and hope this partnership serves as a model for other communities to follow,” she said, noting there are still many details that must be worked out before the project can move ahead.
Kelzer said the new, two-story facility — to be at the corner of Profile Parkway and Ind. 48 — would cost $9 million to $10 million. It would be built on a site owned by Ivy Tech that the school would lease to the YMCA for $1 a year for 50 years. The YMCA would fund, build and operate the new YMCA.
The current YMCA is 90,000 square feet and sits on 20 acres. The new YMCA would be 45,000 to 50,000 square feet and sit on a 10-acre site.
“There would be enough land available for the facility to expand if that becomes necessary,” Kelzer said.
Kelzer said the facility would have a licensed day care center that would offer full-time care to about 80 children, plus a part-time drop-off child care center similar to what exists at the current YMCA. Both centers would be available to the children of community members and Ivy Tech students, employees and staff.
“Our studies show we might lose 15 to 20 percent of our people to the northwest YMCA,” she said. “But if that occurs, we feel that loss would quickly be filled by people who now feel the Y is just too busy.”
The new Y would be governed by the current YMCA board, though Kelzer said she would like Ivy Tech to be represented on the board.
The joint venture needs the YMCA’s board to approve the legal language of the agreement at its Aug. 10 meeting, and Ivy Tech’s state board of trustees to formally approve the project at its Aug. 12 meeting in Lafayette.
If those things happen, the YMCA and Ivy Tech will work out the details of the partnership — such as the terms of the lease agreement, joint programming and space allocations for child care.
Recalling a 2007 plan for a westside Y that didn’t come to fruition, Kelzer cautioned that the new facility is not yet a certainty.
“We’ve been investing a lot of time and energy to move forward with this partnership, but it’s too early in the process to say it’s a done deal, or to talk about a capital campaign,” Kelzer said.
Kelzer said if the new Y becomes a reality, it would likely feature a family-style pool, multi-purpose and youth-oriented rooms, and one or more basketball courts. “It would not be a duplication of the current Y,” she said.
Why give up the land?
Whikehart has said that Ivy Tech is rapidly outgrowing its facility, so why is the college willing to give up 10 acres for this project?
Whikehart said Ivy Tech’s next two construction projects on its 10-year facilities and building plan are on the school’s original tract of land. The new YMCA would be built on a separate 10-acre tract it bought in 2003 for projects that would enhance students’ academic experience.
“This is a unique opportunity for our students, staff and employees to have access to a facility that would offer child care, wellness programs, classroom space, internship opportunities and a clinical site for our life and health sciences programs,” he said.
Last May, the city of Bloomington took over ownership of the SportsPlex recreation and sports facility, which is also on the west side of town.
But Kelzer said that purchase, and some of the planned upgrades of that facility, do not diminish the need for a new YMCA.
“The Y and the SportsPlex serve different needs within the community,” she said. “The SportsPlex has five basketball courts and an indoor soccer field that enables it to draw leagues and tournaments from across the state and entire nation. We have only three basketball courts that must serve more than 10,000 members, so we can’t set aside those courts for leagues of all ages.”