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Newstrack: Marion YMCA leaders now applying for state grant

City manager hopes to break ground on new site within 45 days

A rendering shows the front elevation of the planned new regional YMCA in Marion. Construction on the project, which is many years in the making, is set to start later this year. (Illustration courtesy of Marion YMCA)
A rendering shows the front elevation of the planned new regional YMCA in Marion. Construction on the project, which is many years in the making, is set to start later this year. (Illustration courtesy of Marion YMCA)
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Background

A new Marion YMCA facility has been a decade in the making. As part of Marion’s Imagine 8 project, a series of improvements to enhance quality of life in the city that began in 2009, city leaders identified a need for more gym and recreation space.

At the time, city officials felt it wasn’t necessarily their role to maintain a gym facility. They began working with the YMCA to construct a new regional center to replace its 55-year-old building at 3100 10th Ave.

The plans call for a 75,000-square foot building, which includes three basketball courts, leisure and lap pools, and more than 7,000 square feet of fitness space. Other features include two football fields, a cafe and racquetball courts, among other amenities.

The new facility originally was planned to be near Tower Terrace and Winslow roads, but some Marion City Council members were concerned about the site being partially within the 100-year flood plain.

So project leaders last year settled on a new site, across from the city’s new fire station near Tower Terrace and Irish roads.

Overall, the city plans to contribute $7.3 million to the roughly $20 million regional facility.

What’s happened since

Marion already has dedicated $1 million in local-option sales tax to the project, with another million expected. City manager Lon Pluckhahn said the city has bonded for the remaining $7.3 million contribution, which is scheduled to be done by the end of the month.

Project leaders also are in the process of applying for a $500,000 Community Attraction and Tourism, or CAT, grant from the state. Often, CAT grants are the final major funding piece for projects that receive them.

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Officials involved with the project plan to attend the CAT committee’s meeting Wednesday to discuss the project.

YMCA staff declined an interview request until the project is further along in the grant process.

Pluckhahn said the application may take a few committee meetings to get approved, depending on how complete the committee feels the application is.

“The big key is getting them on board and saying ‘yup, we’ll give you your award’ because that’s one of the last pieces we need to get the project moving,” he said.

The grant largely will go to pay for the facility’s swimming pool.

In July, the Marion City Council unanimously approved a resolution of support for the CAT grant application. At that meeting, Bob Carlson, president and CEO of the Cedar Rapids Metro YMCA, said two other YMCA projects had received CAT grants in the past year — one in downtown Davenport and one in Washington.

“And none of them had the support and commitment that you all have from the city toward this project. So that’s one of our very shining stars going into this application,” Carlson said, adding that surrounding communities such as Hiawatha and Springville and area businesses all have signed letters of support.

Pluckhahn said he hopes to break ground in the next 45 days, if all goes according to plan.

“On one hand there’s some excitement and on the other there’s some relief,” Pluckhahn said. “It’s been coming for so long that in some ways it’s almost surreal.”

Construction is expected to take 14 to 18 months, depending on weather conditions, Pluckhahn said.

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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