Leaders in Cass County are considering a $350,000 request from the local YMCA for a capital campaign to update its facility.
Derreck Parkevich, executive director of the Cass County Family YMCA, briefed the Cass County Council on the Y's $3.5 million goal for its 51-year-old building that had its last capital campaign in 1985.
That goal includes updating and modernizing the facility with a new entrance, new parking lots, new roof, landscaping and refreshing exterior brick. The Y is also after a new lobby to eliminate current bottlenecks and provide more room to socialize. Locker rooms on the main floor will be turned into private family changing areas, parts of the interior will become more multipurpose and weights will be moved downstairs.
As of Friday, Parkevich said the campaign had garnered $2.16 million and that he anticipates surpassing $2.9 million over the next 30 days. He addressed contributions of $1 million and three ranging between $200,000 to $250,000 along with the $500,000 Logansport City Council approved in economic development income tax funds this summer.
The Y's membership has risen 44 percent over the past five years, Parkevich said, putting strains on the building. He also said the facility serves 1 in 10 county residents through memberships, almost 50 businesses through its membership program and that 41 percent of Y memberships belong to those living outside of Logansport.
Brian Morrill, who's chairing the Y's capital campaign, addressed the council as well.
"We feel like this community is much better off with the YMCA than it would be without a YMCA," Morrill said. "...No, it's not going to go away in five or 10 years if this campaign doesn't make it but we want a vibrant YMCA, we want a YMCA that's strong."
Morrill shared his own memories of growing up going to the local Y and the valuable life lessons he learned there.
"I think the Y brings together a large segment of our community like no other organization that I know of," he said. "Poor, middle class, rich, it doesn't matter. You play together, you sweat together, you walk out together feeling better than you did walking in. I think that's what the Y is."
Morrill referred to how the county gets about $275,000 to $400,000 a year in economic development income taxes — significantly less than what Logansport draws. He also recognized the expensive jail expansion county officials are planning for.
Cass County Council President George Stebbins said later during the meeting that the county may have to raise taxes to pay for the project.
"You're going to put millions into that project, we're going to ask you to put thousands into this one," Morrill said.
He went on to describe it as two sides of the same equation. The county needs a larger jail for people who have done wrong, he said, and the Y tries to reach people before that has to happen.
"I'm not going to stand here and tell you we're going to keep everybody out of jail," Morrill said. "The Y's not going to be able to do that. You know that and I know that. We're just going to try to do our best."
Morrill went on to say the Y is at a critical juncture.
"I don't think we can get to the $3.5 million goal without your help," he said. "I'm not going to say it's impossible but it's going to be very difficult. We need your help."
He went on to suggest $350,000 over five years, which would lessen the impact by allowing reserves to continue gaining earnings.
Stebbins encouraged council members to consider two options — turn the request down or, if it gets the necessary positive recommendation from the Cass County Commissioners, to consider it in April 2019 because the state frowns upon additional appropriations early on into the year.
Cass County Councilman Grover Bishop moved for the latter. After the meeting, he said he recognized that county coffers are limited in terms of what the Y is asking but added the request deserves consideration. He admitted he doesn't know if the county can come up with the request but that the more time that can be taken to review it, the better.
"We need time to let it set in," Bishop said.
The council passed Bishop's motion 6-1 with Stebbins dissenting.
After the meeting, Stebbins referred to the statistic Parkevich provided about the local Y serving one in 10 Cass County residents. Stebbins said it wouldn't be fair to ask the remaining nine to contribute to a service that one was using.
"In my personal opinion, it's not right for me to take taxpayer money and give it to a private organization," Stebbins said.