A rendering of what a new YMCA on Kent’s East Hill could look like. COURTESY GRAPHIC, city of Kent

A rendering of what a new YMCA on Kent’s East Hill could look like. COURTESY GRAPHIC, city of Kent

Funds to build YMCA on Kent’s East Hill coming up short

Nearly $5 million gap

There’s an estimated shortfall of about $5 million to build a YMCA on Kent’s East Hill as the project goes to the YMCA board on May 1 for approval to move forward.

The YMCA of Greater Seattle is about $3 million behind in its fundraising goal of $26 million, according to city documents presented Tuesday night at a Kent City Council workshop. Construction costs are about $1.5 to $2 million higher than expected to build the facility at city park property near Southeast 248th Street and 104th Avenue Southeast.

“I strongly believe there is not a more diverse city in this state, and I hear the challenge and opportunity presented in front of us,” Council President Bill Boyce said. “But not building this and not making it happen – it wouldn’t be good because there is a great need for this YMCA in this city with this diverse community, and I would hope that somehow we can figure out a way to make this thing work.

“No is not an answer. We have to figure out how to make this happen. Hearing this tonight makes me feel a little nervous. … I am really concerned about where we are at. I don’t feel as good now as I did months ago about this project.”

The total project budget is $37.2 million. The YMCA is paying $26.1 million or 71 percent of the costs with the city paying $11.1 million or 29 percent of the costs, according to city documents.

The 30-member YMCA board is requesting a plan from the fundraising team that identifies an achievable path forward with a goal of raising the final balance by summer 2020. But the board will not advance the project or sign lease agreements with the city until costs are within the identified target range and/or fundraising goals are attainable.

“Both the YMCA and the city are very much working hard to figure out how to close this gap,” said City Parks Director Julie Parascondola said in response to Boyce’s comments.

Nathan Phillips, regional vice president for the YMCA of Greater Seattle, told the council what’s at stake at the board meeting.

“We don’t have to have 100 percent of the funding in place to proceed with groundbreaking,” said Phillips about a goal to break ground in May, start construction in July and open in 2019. “But we kind of have to have a pathway of how we are going to get there. As of today, we still don’t have that pathway in place. We know some fundraising we can do and we have identified lots of cuts to the project to keep costs under control. But there is still a gap between what we can raise and what the current costs are coming out at.”

As with Boyce, Phillips has concerns about the shortfall.

“We do not have the prospects in place to get a proceed today,” Phillips said about the board meeting. “We have a lot of work to do in the next few days to map that out. … I am also very nervous. This is a very critical project to the city and the Y. We made promises to the community to move forward. I am nervous but working every angle we can to get a pathway built for it.”

City leaders have told YMCA officials they do not want to reduce the facility footprint, such as no gym or a half gym or a smaller pool in order to reduce costs.

“Kent deserves this,” Mayor Dana Ralph said. “I have not heard from any council members that they want a Y that has no gym or a smaller pool. Those are things we committed to in the beginning. I’m very confident the city has worked really hard to meet our commitment and we want to continue to work with the Y to make this happen. The reality is there is not a pot of gold on this side of the rainbow. …

“We need to figure out what this path looks like going forward and the facility we committed to this community is the facility that gets built. We’ve got two weeks to go.”

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