By Sam Wildow and Aimee Hancock
PIQUA — The Miami County YMCA announced a new capital project to the public this week for a new building for its Piqua Branch – a project estimated to cost $15 million.
The Miami County YMCA is continuing to raise funds for this new building, having raised nearly $11 million for the project as of press time. The cost of the facility is expected to total $13 million. Once the new facility is constructed, which is expected to be complete by spring 2023, the current building will be demolished and replaced with a parking lot. The cost of that portion of the project is expected to cost approximately $2 million.
The Miami County YMCA will be demolishing three buildings, which it currently owns, across the street from its current location at 223 W. High St. in Piqua, where the new building will then be constructed.
Jim McMaken, executive director of the Miami County YMCA, said they are planning on building a “brand new, full-service, state-of-the-art, modern YMCA facility” across the street from its current building. The main portion of the current Piqua Branch of the Miami County YMCA was constructed in 1963, and it replaced a building that had been on that corner since 1892. The current building was also expanded in 1977.
“It’s been well-maintained, but it’s been retro-fitted a number of times, and it’s just become outdated, and it doesn’t meet the needs of our community any longer,” McMaken said.
Miami County YMCA Board President Elizabeth Gutmann said when it comes to building a new facility, “the time is now.”
“This has been a long-range plan for the board for a quite some time, and (when I became president of the board), I said I’m willing to move this forward,” Gutmann said. “(The Robinson Branch) is built and they’ve got their new field house, we survived the economic downturn of 2008, and now is the time to do it. That’s our overarching theme, ‘the time is now,’ and I think enough people agree that it’s long overdue.”
Gutmann is serving her third two-year term as president and said she looks forward to seeing this project through to fruition.
Campaign Chairman Steve Staley explained the Miami County YMCA looked into renovating its current building versus constructing a new one. The cost of renovating the current one would have been between $7-8 million, but it would have required that branch to shut down aspects of the building for lengthy periods of time.
“You lose a lot of the ability to service your customers when big chunks of the building aren’t useable, so we had to factor that in as well,” Staley said.
McMaken added that renovating the current location still would not have solved all of the issues the branch is currently facing in regard to accessibility, as well as to providing new services and features.
The Miami County YMCA conducted a feasibility study in 2018 and 2019 for a new building project. Staley and McMaken said the community was “overwhelmingly supportive” of the project. McMaken added the community was also “overwhelmingly supportive” of the Piqua Branch of the Miami County YMCA remaining downtown.
Staley pointed out that the Miami County YMCA is going to control the entire quadrant located at the intersection of High and Downing streets in Piqua with the Miami County’s Child Care and Activity Center being located at that intersection, too.
“We’re buying right in with the city’s plans and excitedly so,” Staley said.
Staley said there is a lot of “legacy opportunity” for donors to be recognized with plaques and other Named Gifts at the new building.
Staley and McMaken explained the new building will tie in with the Miami County YMCA’s mission to promote youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility by improving accessibility and expanding the services and features that will be available in this new building.
McMaken said the YMCA’s demographics have changed significantly with over 30% of their members being people who are 65 years old or older. A large segment of the services they provide are now aimed at older adults, helping them maintain healthy lifestyles and the strong social connections they build at the classes the Miami County YMCA offers.
“It really builds on that whole concept of community,” McMaken said.
The staples of the Miami County YMCA will also be found at the new building, including a 25-meter, six-lane pool; a diving pool with a diving board; a large gymnasium and fieldhouse; and two full-sized basketball courts. The fieldhouse will be netted with a turf area for sports like baseball, softball, and football to be played.
“We’re still the world’s largest teacher of swimming,” Staley said about the YMCA.
The new building will also boast a larger therapy pool with a handicap-accessible, zero-entry ramp. They will also add a water feature to the swimming area for kids.
Staley added the Miami County YMCA, at both locations, is accessible and available to everyone through use of financial assistance programs. Those in need can apply to have up to 90% of the membership costs covered.
“It’s a very confidential process,” McMaken said, adding that no one is turned away due to financial need.
In addition to its large features, the new building will also have the needs of families and individuals in mind with new family and assisted private locker rooms. With these locker rooms, children don’t have to use a separate locker room from their parents.
“I don’t believe anyone could argue with the large benefit the YMCA has on families,” Staley said.
“This is a game changer,” Staley said about the new building. “This is another transformative opportunity for Piqua and the Miami County YMCA.”
If you would like to learn more about how the YMCA impacts the community or how you can make a contribution, contact Jim McMaken at (937) 773-9622 or firstname.lastname@example.org. There are also opportunities for named gifts in honor of or in memory of family and friends.
For more information about the project, visit miamicountyymca.net/capital-campaign.