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Y takes leap of faith, forges ahead

Call it a leap of faith.

The Alexandria Area YMCA board of directors announced Wednesday that it is moving forward with construction of a proposed 56,000-square-foot program center.

Although the YMCA is short of its campaign goal, board members felt very strongly that deferring construction wasn't in the best interest of the YMCA or the community.

The "Complete the Dream" Capital Campaign" is currently at $8,030,000 - 90 percent of the campaign goal with 625 individuals and businesses contributing.

YMCA leaders say they're confident that the community will contribute the remaining $950,000 and that total donors will reach 1,000 before the campaign concludes.

The capital campaign cabinet is currently working on a revised campaign plan that will raise the remaining dollars and help insure that the YMCA won't open its doors with a significant amount of debt and preferably no debt service, according to Jeff Bartholomew, executive director of the Alexandria Area YMCA.

Within the next seven to 10 days, YMCA leaders said they'll announce a revised campaign plan that will include a "challenge match gift program" in the final push to raise the remaining dollars.

"It is imperative that the community understands the importance of supporting the YMCA capital campaign and committing to raising the remaining dollars," noted YMCA campaign chair David Kjos. "The YMCA board made the decision to move forward, however, our fundraising work is not complete, nor will it be, until we have reached our campaign goal."

The decision to break ground, according to YMCA leaders, was also based on the following information:

•The competitive bids on the project will allow the YMCA to construct its program center at a cost not to exceed $9 million dollars.

"As the economy improves, construction related costs will increase, meaning that we may have to raise a considerable amount of additional dollars in the future to construct the identical YMCA facility," noted Bartholomew.

•The YMCA has a tremendous amount of momentum and the community is eagerly anticipating the arrival of the YMCA.

Delaying construction, Bartholomew said, would affect the integrity and relationship that the YMCA has with its supporters, and enthusiasm and confidence might wane.

•In addition to the design and construction management being performed by local firms, the YMCA project will employ numerous local contractors.

Bartholomew noted that 100 percent of the project bid packages were awarded to companies within the Alexandria YMCA service area. "This will provide essential jobs for many local individuals and support many local businesses," he said.

•The YMCA will provide 17 full-time jobs and more than 100 part-time jobs, creating new employment opportunities in the community.

•The proposed YMCA facility will address numerous critical issues that have been present in the Alexandria area for many years and will provide the YMCA the opportunity to provide intergenerational programming based on Christian values.

•The YMCA Financial Assistance Program will provide essential scholarships for kids, adults, seniors and families in our community to become members or participate in one of the YMCAs diverse programs.

•The YMCA will be a recruiting tool for area employers and those who are considering retiring to the Alexandria area. To make a donation or pledge to the YMCA, call (320) 763-9621 or visit the site,