The Garden City YMCA is on the verge of expanding, in a way that also could prove to be beneficial to USD 457.
Chad Knight, chief executive officer of the YMCA, and USD 457 Superintendent Rick Atha are ironing out details of an agreement that, with approval of the USD 457 Board of Education, would allow the YMCA to put a proposed inflatable dome on district-owned property just east of Kenneth Henderson Middle School.
The dome will be about the size of a football field and would house basketball courts, volleyball courts, an indoor soccer area and a walking track. There also would be space for special events and specialized programs, like pole vaulting, Knight said.
“And then we’ll have an area for gymnastics — power tumbling, trampoline. We’re partnering with Skywalkers Gymnastics,” Knight said.
There also would be locker rooms and restrooms.
Atha said that the board’s attorney, Randy Grisell, drafted a tentative agreement between USD 457 and the YMCA that he and Knight will review before it is presented at the Jan. 11 school board meeting.
Atha sees the proposed dome as potentially a positive addition for both parties.
“Right now, the way I see it, it’s a win-win for the district and the YMCA, and I hope we can work out the logistics to where that’s the case,” he said.
As it reads right now, the agreement states that Kenneth Henderson can use the dome during school hours, and the YMCA would use it during their peak hours, which are typically evenings and weekends.
There won’t be any monetary exchange between the two entities.
“It would just simply be, they would be able to use the property, put their facility on it and then they would be able to use our parking lot,” Atha said. “In return, we would get an extra physical education facility to use during the day and maybe a practice facility in the late afternoon.”
Atha said that the district will continue to maintain the parking lot.
“We have to maintain that anyway,” he said.
Every weekend, the YMCA’s current facility is teeming with people who participate in youth and adult basketball, youth and adult volleyball, or adult soccer.
“That was probably the driver to do this because we just needed space. We’re busting at the seams,” Knight said. “We felt it’s going to be best to pull the traffic away from here and the congestion and put all of our leagues, lessons, tournaments and events up in the dome, to free up the congestion here and give our members more space and more time and open up our gym more for them to use, instead of being tied down to leagues, lessons or whatever.”
Knight said the YMCA also is looking to do some renovations and additions to the current facility located on Center Street. The estimated cost of the whole project is $1.8 million.
“We’re looking at about a $1.8 million project, and almost half of that is going to be for the dome project, and then another half will be for doing some renovations and additions at the existing facility,” he said, adding that those will include the addition of a racquetball court, a multi-purpose room, a new bathroom and storage area and an expansion of the fitness center.
Knight said that a facilities task force came up with several other possible ways to expand the YMCA, but that the dome was the lowest-priced option.
Knight proposed the dome because he knew there were potential cost savings, not only in terms of there being only minimal construction costs, but also because of the upkeep.
“We’ve got to worry about it being sustainable and being able to pay for it and operate it. This dome is going to be a little bit cheaper than a traditional building, paying for the energy, gas and lights,” he said.
The YMCA’ annual utility fee runs about $75,000 at the current facility, and the dome’s expected utility cost per year will be about $60,000.
Knight also said that there won’t be the need for a staff of more than two at the dome.
“And then we’ll have the cleaning crew come in at night, one or two people come in to clean it up. Very minimal staff to operate it,” he said.
He said another positive is that should the district ever need to use the property for some other purpose, the dome can be deflated and moved elsewhere.
The dome is resistant to up to 100 mph winds and has a 19-inch membrane between the exterior and interior walls, which Knight said will prevent it from deflating should it be punctured.
If approved, Charter Matrix Group, Inc., will provide the dome, and Knight hopes that it can be up and ready for business by fall of 2015.
“This can be up in 16 weeks, from start to finish,” he said, adding that the main work is constructing the floor and concrete footers that the dome will sit on.
But before they can start constructing it, Knight said they will need to start with a capital campaign.
“We’ve got to raise money. We don’t get any tax dollars. All our money comes from memberships, programs and contributions. So anything we do, anything we build, anything we renovate or add, we have to go out and raise the funds to build it,” he said. “This whole building has been built by donors and supporters in the community. It’s always a challenge to go raise funds, but we’ll preach our story, tell them ‘this is what we’re going to do,’ and hopefully people will be willing to give and make a donation.”