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Council increases YMCA funds

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

The Miami County YMCA’s new facility received a funding boost during the county council meeting Tuesday evening, when the council committed to increase their previous pledge to the project from $500,000 to $1.5 million.

The county council matched the City of Peru’s pledge of $1.5 million donated last month to the project. The city also donated 10 acres of land from a 40-acre plot the city acquired from the railroad.

The meeting was the YMCA’s second attempt at persuading the county to increase their pledge after the Miami County Commissioners tabled the topic during their meeting last week.

During Tuesday’s meeting, YMCA Director Mark Demchak spoke on behalf of the YMCA’s Board of Directors where he leveled with county council and community members on the importance of a new facility.

The goal for the project began in 2012 following a 9-month study of the YMCA’s internal strengths and weaknesses as well as assessing the needs of the community.

From there, Demchak explained the YMCA had two choices where they could either manage the facilities depleting resources or transition into a new era.

“We could lead the Y into a new era of services by committing to developing a brand new facility,” Demchak said.

According to Demchak, the $1.5 million requested comes out to about 12 percent of the entire cost of the project.

“We’re asking for 12 percent and we’re bringing the other 88 percent,” Demchak said. “If we didn’t think it would have a big return, we wouldn’t ask for it.”

The new facility wouldn’t only be attracting new employers to Miami County, but individuals who’ll want to put roots down in the community and raise their families, according to Demchak.

“It’s rare when you have an opportunity for a project that can affect the other parts of economic development,” Demchak said. “Population growth, improvement of population health, improvement of quality of place and quality of life.”

While the new facility is going to offer more in way of activities and programs, Demchak assured council members the old building wouldn’t be left to rot.

The building’s use is still up for debate, but there was talk about utilizing the gym to play team sports like soccer, pickleball and possibly tennis.

“We’re not going to leave a building here to fall down,” Demchak said.

With the both the city and county pledging $1.5 million, Demchak said the YMCA will reach their goal for the new facility by the end of the year. From there, the tentative schedule has contractors breaking ground on the facility in May 2019 and open 12 months later.

Unlike many projects of this magnitude, Demchak said the project is going to be 100 percent funded before construction even begins.

This is to ensure the project continues on course for individuals in the community who would utilize the facilities services.

According to Demchak, the Y not only offers activities for children and adults, but it provides education, child care and a place for everyone to belong.

“The Y provides a place for all people to belong regardless of their background, regardless of how much income they have,” Demchak said.

As far as the benefits, several council members spoke up to voice their approval of the project.

“I think it’s a big plus for our community,” said county council member Dick Wiles. “I think it’s a great thing for the county.”

The council voted to approve the motion to commit to increasing the pledge from $500,000 to $1.5 million in a 6-1 vote with council member John Donaldson voting against it.

“I agree it’s a worthy project,” said county council president Ethan Manning. “It’s very important for the development of the city and of course the city being in the county affects us as well in a positive way.”