YMCA breaks ground on $2.3M expansion

Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Tri-County YMCA board members, staff and attendees throw discs towards the construction site as part of the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Tri-County YMCA expansion project in Ferdinand on Monday. Executive Director Mike Steffe said it felt awesome to hold the groundbreaking ceremony since planning began in 2017.


FERDINAND — In just under a year, the Tri-County YMCA in Ferdinand will be 50% larger.

It held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday night for the 11,000-square-foot addition that Seufert Construction began on June 1. YMCA Executive Director Mike Steffe said the nonprofit planned to hold the ceremony in March but had to postpone it due to COVID-19.

“As you can see [the ground] is pretty much broken,” he joked.

Still, he and the YMCA’s leadership wanted to hold a ceremonial groundbreaking, so they scheduled the event as a precursor to the annual review meeting. Rather than shovels turning the dirt in the construction site, however, Steffe collected disc golf frisbees that attendees threw into the air like graduation caps. A fitting tribute, as the addition is the result of the nonprofit graduating to its next stage of operation.

The $2.3 million addition is the result of sustained growth in membership that was noted in 2017 and continues in the present. According to data Steffe presented Monday night, the YMCA saw a 4% increase in membership in 2019, with much of that increase coming in unit — or family — memberships. Unit memberships saw a 10% increase in 2019.

The expansion is being added to the north side of the building, the one nearest to the Ferdinand Community Center and Ferdinand Branch Library. Once completed, it will house a new fitness center — which will be double the size of the current one — and a multipurpose gym area where staff will host programs. The current fitness center will become a group exercise room, and the current gym will be open more often for walking and games of pickleball, Steffe said.

“We hope that we have something for everyone,” said Neil Weyer, board president.

The expansion came after a community needs assessment the board of directors conducted in 2017 following complaints of the current facilities feeling cramped. The addition is funded by a capital campaign titled “Reimagine Your Y” that kicked off in 2019. So far, the campaign has raised roughly $2.1 million of its $2.3 million goal.

During the groundbreaking, Steffe thanked all the donors who pledged funds. Some, he said, donated 18 months before any sitework began on the project, and Steffe acknowledged that such a long wait to see progress can be stressful for donors.

“We appreciate everyone for hanging with us,” he said.

The Tri-County YMCA opened in 2004 in the gym of the Marian Heights Academy at Monastery Immaculate Conception. Then, in 2011 the nonprofit built its current 23,000-square-foot facility at 131 E. 16th St.

Once work got underway on the addition, Steffe said excitement among the members began to build. Staff members field questions daily from members eager to see the addition take shape, and there’s a general feeling of excitement around the facility. If the project stays on schedule, members should be enjoying the new space by March 2021.

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