MARION — After months of building a new facility during a pandemic and a derecho, the new Marion YMCA opens to the public Monday.
The $19.5 million facility, at 3740 Irish Dr., has been under construction for 13 months and its opening is a dream come true, CEO and President Bob Carlson told The Gazette on Friday.
“It feels fantastic,” Carlson said. “It’s a dream come true for the region and the community.”
The first floor of the 75,000-square-foot, two-floor facility offers three, full-size basketball courts, two racquetball courts, a six-lane lap pool and splashpad.
The second floor holds cardiovascular and strength training equipment, fitness classrooms and an eighth-mile indoor track overlooking the basketball courts.
The grounds will have two, regulation-size football fields.
Carlson said the Y is looking forward to 2021 after a tough 2020, while keeping members safe with social-distancing rules and capacity caps for different sections of the facility.
After the pandemic, the facility’s capacity will be 500 people.
“We’re not exactly sure how fast or how many people are coming,” Carlson said. “We’ve been selling memberships since Jan. 4, and we’ve held virtual tours and that’s been successful. … We did build our fitness area with social-distancing in mind.”
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The YMCA faced a financially difficult 2020, which included struggling to give refunds after a canceled Camp Wapsi season and the closing of its Mercy Health Plaza location in July. Because of the pandemic, operations for the year were down almost 45 percent, Carlson said in November.
The goal is 2021, Carlson said, is to get back to programming.
“Hopefully, everything starts going the right direction with the pandemic and vaccinations,” he said. “We need to get back to our programs. We’re planning on opening Camp Wapsi this summer, and we’re hoping 80 percent or greater with the numbers.”
Additionally, the Y and Marion Parks and Recreation will merge programming and share the facility. Carlson said the shared programming also will preserve staff.
Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly told The Gazette on Friday the facility is a great asset for the community and the region.
“I think it’s going to be an amazing facility that will serve our community for years to come,” AbouAssaly said. “In our visioning process more than a decade ago, a community rec center was the No. 1 project the community wanted. We’re really pleased with this partnership with the Y.”
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