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Greenwood wants to partner with nonprofit on pool

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If a YMCA is built in the county, Greenwood would like it to be next to a new aquatic center at Freedom Park.

Greenwood has been in talks with the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis about partnering on a $10 million aquatic center at Freedom Park and building a YMCA facility next door, which would include an indoor pool, gym and space for classes, Mayor Mark Myers said.

The YMCA is interested in managing the new city-owned pool and would pay for operating expenses, including lifeguard salaries, Myers said. The city and the nonprofit still must work out the details, such as whether the YMCA would collect all the revenue or be paid a management fee.

In the next few years, the YMCA also is looking at investing $10 million to $15 million in a 50,000-square-foot facility near the city-owned pool with an indoor pool, a gym and exercise rooms, city attorney Krista Taggart said. The YMCA also wants to offer programs such as day camp and youth soccer at the city’s 79-acre Freedom Park.


Here is a look at some key points about a proposed new Greenwood YMCA:

Pool location debate: Redevelopment commission members said the prospect of a YMCA resolves the ongoing debate about where the pool should be located; the nonprofit isn’t interested in a project at Craig Park in the Old Town because it’s too close to the Baxter YMCA.

What it does for Freedom Park: Would help make the park at Stop 18 and Averitt roads into a major destination; families could visit and use both facilities or go swimming year-round since the YMCA would have an indoor pool.


Here is a look at a proposal being considered by Greenwood and the YMCA:

City aquatic center: The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis has expressed interest in managing the city-owned aquatic center and would employ the lifeguards. The city would pay to construct the aquatic center, estimated at up to $10 million, with money from the city’s tax-increment financing districts on the east side of the city and around Greenwood Park Mall.

How it would work: City and YMCA officials would need to work out details on whether the YMCA would pay all the operating expenses and get all the fees, pay some of the operating expenses and get some of the fees, get paid a management fee or be hired under some other arrangement.

YMCA facility: The YMCA is doing a feasibility study and would need to raise money before investing $10 million to $15 million for a 50,000-square-foot facility, which could include a gym, indoor pool and space for classes and be built next to the aquatic center at Freedom Park.

How it would work: The city is considering donating the land needed for the facility to the YMCA, which would own the property and facility. The YMCA would need to raise the money to build the facility.

Other programs: The YMCA could also offer day camp, youth soccer and other programs at Freedom Park.

But first, a study must be done and approvals are needed from the YMCA and city boards.

A YMCA and an aquatic center would make Freedom Park into a major destination, Myers said. The new YMCA facility also would serve Center Grove area, Bargersville and New Whiteland residents, and the aquatic center could draw people from even farther away.

Myers said he’s been seeking to get a YMCA facility at Freedom Park after the nonprofit was looking at building a center at two locations on State Road 135 in the south Center Grove area.

Currently, the Baxter YMCA, about a mile north of the county line, is the closest to Greenwood. A Greenwood facility would be roughly the size of the Baxter YMCA before it was expanded after the 2002 tornado, executive director Danielle Tippett said.

The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis has been opening new facilities across central Indiana and considering a Johnson County facility for the past few years. Myers met this week with the nonprofit’s executives about his proposal for a public-private partnership at Freedom Park.

Sometime in the next few weeks, YMCA officials plan to ask their board to approve a feasibility study that would look at whether a YMCA in Greenwood could make enough money to cover expenses. And if so, Greenwood would donate an undetermined amount of land at Freedom Park, and the YMCA would launch a fundraising campaign to raise enough in donations to cover the cost of construction.

Any potential project likely would be at least three to five years off, Tippett said.

The possibility of a new YMCA at Freedom Park and the nonprofit’s interest in managing the aquatic center has resolved the ongoing dilemma of where to build a new city pool. Redevelopment commission president Mike Tapp said the YMCA’s involvement was a game-changer that made Freedom Park the ideal location.

YMCA is not interested in a Craig Park location because it’s too close to the Baxter YMCA, Tippett said.

Freedom Park, at Averitt and Stop 18 roads on Greenwood’s southwest side, is about seven miles from the Baxter YMCA. That’s far enough away for the YMCA to consider, she said.

The YMCA has been expanding throughout central Indiana with the goal of making Indianapolis one of the 10 healthiest cities in the country by 2025, she said. The YMCA runs all its centers as nonprofits, and membership fees pay for more programs and services, such as cancer recovery classes, she added.

The nonprofit has been considering a Johnson County location for a few years, and this week Myers asked local YMCA executives to build it at Freedom Park.

After that meeting, the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to give the YMCA $10,000 to pay for half the cost of a feasibility study to determine whether enough members would support a new gym and indoor pool in Greenwood.

All five of the appointed redevelopment commission members said they supported the prospect of the city partnering with the YMCA on an aquatic center at the park. They encouraged Myers to continue talking with the YMCA and agreed to build a pool at Freedom Park as long as the YMCA was involved with the project.

Greenwood would build the new pool itself for a cost of up to $10 million, Myers said. The city could start work as soon as this year and would pay for the project with tax dollars from tax-increment financing districts around the Greenwood Park Mall and on the city’s east side.

That money is collected from property taxes for new development in those areas and mostly channeled into road and other infrastructure projects aimed at luring new businesses. Schools, libraries and other local governments don’t get most of that money.

Before starting construction, Greenwood would get input from the YMCA on what amenities are needed to attract customers, city council member and pool committee chairman Thom Hord said.

The YMCA recently built an aquatic center in the Louisville area, has experience operating profitable recreational facilities and knows what is needed in order to make money, Hord said.

Greenwood would own any pool built at the park but is considering leasing it to the YMCA so the nonprofit could manage it, Taggart said.

Greenwood has not decided whether the YMCA would pay all the operating expenses and get all the fees, pay some of the operating expenses and get some of the fees, get paid a management fee or be hired under some other arrangement. Several types of agreements could be worked out during negotiations over the next few weeks, Taggart said.

Lifeguards likely would be YMCA employees instead of city employees, Myers said. The city would benefit by not incurring as much in operating costs and by having a manager who could ensure that the pool brought in enough money to cover expenses.

Greenwood had been paying $40,000 to $80,000 a year in property taxes to run the pool and wants a new pool to pay for itself, Myers said.

The city would have a say in what rates Greenwood residents would pay to use the aquatic center, she said. The YMCA could charge out-of-towners higher fees to get into the proposed pool.

Residents would have to buy a YMCA membership to use the new facility, including the gym and indoor pool, and no decision has been made on whether city residents could get discounted rates. The YMCA offers different rates for memberships based on income levels, Myers said.

A YMCA at Freedom Park also would benefit residents who live on the growing west side of Greenwood and would relieve pressure on the community center, redevelopment commission member Gail Richards said.

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