Kent’s new YMCA remains on schedule to open in September 2019, although fundraising by the nonprofit group remains about $2.5 million shy of its $26 million goal.
“They still are behind a little bit in their funding target,” said City Parks Director Julie Parascondola during a Tuesday night report to the Kent City Council about the project. “They feel good about it. They did just receive a half-a-million dollar grant from Boeing (Employees Community Fund of Boeing), so that’s super exciting and amazing for them.”
The YMCA also continues its community fundraising campaign to help reach the goal. The city of Kent contributed about $10 million to the new 50,000-square-foot facility under construction between Morrill Meadows Park and East Hill Park near Southeast 248th Street and 104th Avenue Southeast.
“They are still on track to finish in early August (2019) with the facility itself opening after Labor Day weekend,” Parascondola said.
The YMCA will include an aquatic center with lap lanes and family swim areas; dedicated community gathering spaces; a gym, group fitness and cardio spaces; indoor and outdoor recreation surrounded by Morrill Meadows Park; and significant expansion of school, child care and enrichment programs for youth. YMCA officials expect to have 11,000 members and serve another 11,000 people through community programs.
Council President Bill Boyce asked Parascondola about the agreement between the city and YMCA to help lower-income families and children have access to the facility.
“We want to make sure the kids that can’t afford it can attend,” Boyce said.
Parascondola said the YMCA must distribute at least $100,000 annually in free passes. The daily fee and membership rates are still being determined, but right now the daily pass would be $17, which would be roughly 5,882 free passes. The YMCA and city are still figuring out how those passes will be distributed.
The YMCA also will have scholarships available for those who cannot afford memberships or program participation.
“Typically, if someone qualifies for (school) reduced lunches, they will qualify for discounts or breaks,” Parascondola said. “One of the things the YMCA does is looking at who are they not serving so they target passes to the under-served in the community. We will work with them on that because they have to report back to us (annually) on all of the community benefits.”
Once the YMCA sets fees and how it will handle scholarships, Parascondola said she will inform the council about the plan.
With the new YMCA opening next year, the city eventually will close its Kent Meridian Pool, an aging facility and a major reason the city wanted a new pool.
“One of the challenges we have is the dilapidated Kent Meridian Pool,” Parascondola said. “Last year we invested around $70,000 in there and we will do some additional work, but I won’t be moving on a lot of things beyond a life cycle of a year because it just doesn’t make sense.”
Boyce asked the parks director how much more will people have to pay to use the YMCA compared to the Kent Meridian Pool. Parascondola responded that fees haven’t been set yet.
“The YMCA is definitely higher price than the pool,” she said. “But that’s why they have all of the programs they have. They have specific scholarships for swimming in addition to membership scholarships, so that’s part of the community benefit and they have the two (free) swims (per month).”
Once the city closes the Kent Meridian Pool, the Kent School District (which leases the building to the city) will bulldoze the facility to make room for more classroom space, Parascondola said. The high school swim teams from Kentwood and Kent-Meridian that use the city pool will lease pool time at the YMCA.
As far as parking, city staff has reached a verbal agreement with the Kent United Methodist Church to use its lot when available for overflow parking. City staff expects to have a signed agreement soon. The city is building a new 250-spot parking lot for the YMCA.