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YMCA considering Freedom Park for new center

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The Arthur R. Baxter YMCA on Shelby street in Indianapolis is the closest YMCA facility to Johnson County. The city of Greenwood is hoping a planned YMCA facility will be built at Freedom Park. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
The Arthur R. Baxter YMCA on Shelby street in Indianapolis is the closest YMCA facility to Johnson County. The city of Greenwood is hoping a planned YMCA facility will be built at Freedom Park. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis has wanted to open a facility in Johnson County for the past three to four years and now is considering building one at Freedom Park in Greenwood.

Johnson County’s population growth made it a target for expansion, Baxter YMCA executive director Danielle Tippett said. The nonprofit is always looking to grow and offer its health and wellness services to more people, she said.

Tippett said that in recent years, the local chapter of the nonprofit Young Men’s Christian Association has been in an expansion mode and is building new YMCA facilities in Indianapolis — downtown, on the east side and in Pike Township. A new YMCA also recently opened in the Indianapolis City Market, as part of an effort to revitalize the historic landmark.

Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers is asking the YMCA to build a new facility in Greenwood instead of farther south on State Road 135, as was originally envisioned. The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis board still must vote on whether to pursue the project and also would do a feasibility study to make sure the proposed facility would bring in enough money to cover expenses.

At a glance

What’s next: YMCA officials will bring a proposal for a feasibility study to their board in two weeks, and Greenwood should know in the next three months whether the nonprofit would be willing to build a YMCA facility at Freedom Park.

Approvals needed: YMCA of Greater Indianapolis board, Greenwood Park Board, Greenwood City Council

Timeline: Greenwood could start construction on a new pool as soon as this year and hopes to open one by the summer 2014. If approved, a YMCA facility likely would be at least three to five years off.

A Greenwood YMCA likely would be about 50,000 square feet, or roughly the size of the southside Baxter YMCA before it was expanded after sustaining damage in the 2002 tornado, Tippett said. The facility would include an indoor pool, workout equipment, exercise rooms and places for families to gather.

The facility would offer a full range of programs, including yoga classes, youth sports and day care.

The 79-acre Freedom Park is at Stop 18 and Averitt roads on Greenwood’s southwest side.

About 17,000 members currently use the Baxter YMCA about a mile north of County Line Road, and it’s often packed. The YMCA has been eying another south-suburban facility since Johnson County’s population has grown to the point where it could support one, Tippett said. In addition, residents have expressed interest in a new center, and new homes continue to be built farther south, she said.

If a new Greenwood YMCA were built, the Baxter YMCA would remain open and continue to serve residents on the southside and in northern Greenwood. Most of the Johnson County residents who use the Baxter YMCA live north of Smith Valley Road in Greenwood, Tippett said.

The goal of a new Johnson County facility would be to gain new members, including people who live in the Center Grove area, Greenwood and Whiteland, Tippett said.

Early last year, Myers heard from a developer that the YMCA was considering a location at State Road 135 and Whiteland Road in the south Center Grove area. The nonprofit contacted him months later when it started to look at a location at State Road 135 and Stones Crossing Road.

The organization was looking at building a new facility at least 7 miles away from the Baxter YMCA, so that it would serve a different area, Tippett said. People generally are willing to travel only three to five miles to work out or play sports, she said.

Myers hoped the YMCA would consider a more central location in Greenwood so that the facility would be accessible to more city residents. Greenwood would benefit from the facility, and it would be an amenity that prospective businesses would appreciate, he said.

“Landing a YMCA would be huge,” he said. “They help make the community healthier, stronger and more thriving. They have vibrant programs for every financial classification and reach out to the underprivileged as well as the wealthy.”

Myers came up with and pitched the idea of a YMCA in Freedom Park in September, thinking it would tie in well with the aquatic center the city had planned. He said that both facilities could make the park a major destination that would draw visitors from the Center Grove area, Bargersville, Whiteland and New Whiteland.

People could come to swim at the city aquatic center, work out at the gym or take part in a number of health and wellness programs.

“They’re so much more than a gym,” he said. “They offer weight classes, aerobics, cancer recovery classes, day care, before-school care and some pretty incredible youth sports.”

The city hopes the YMCA would offer programs at the proposed aquatic center, such as swimming lessons and water aerobics.

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