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Alexandria Y announces major expansion plan

This shows the preliminary concept plan of the Alexandria YMCA Phase II expansion. The addition would be located directly behind the current administrative offices and gymnasium, with access via the north doors. The outdoor field space improvements would take place on the current field space prepared as part of Phase I. (Drawing by JLG Architects)

An expansion plan is in the works for the Alexandria YMCA.

The official start of a $2.5 million YMCA Phase II Expansion Capital Campaign was announced during the Y's recent "Dining Around Douglas" event.

Alexandria Area YMCA Executive Director Jeff Bartholomew, along with Jon Ballou, YMCA board chair and capital campaign co-chair, announced the new plan.

Ballou and campaign co-chair, Jill Wagner, informed the audience that an 8,000-square foot addition will feature a larger child watch center, multi-purpose space, spinning studio, and improvements to existing outdoor field space.

"The incredible response to our 'Y' has created a level of demand for our programs and facility space that already outstrips our capacity," said Ballou. "To continue to have an impact on the quality of life our kids, adults and families have, it is imperative we act now."

This year, YMCA membership has grown to more than 2,000 membership units, and 5,400 members. YMCA childcare is currently serving more than 130 children, and hundreds of kids and families are served each month through youth and adult programming.

In addition, in 2011 the YMCA awarded more than $178,000 in membership and program subsidy to thousands of individuals and families in the Alexandria area.

YMCA members were surveyed two years ago to determine whether there was a need in the facility for an addition. The answer, according to Y leaders, was a resounding "yes," and the planning process began.

After information gathering, communication and planning, the Alexandria Area YMCA Phase II Capital Campaign has begun the initial phase of fundraising for the expansion.

A 3,500-square-foot multi-purpose space is the campaign's number one priority. This area will feature a sound proof divider to provide opportunities for increased group exercise classes, child care gross motor skill space, overflow space for child watch, and youth and family program development.

On-site outdoor field space is critical to the YMCA's ability to offer programs to its growing membership base, according to Bartholomew. Programs like soccer, baseball and flag football will be the main focus as field spaces are planned.

Existing child watch space will be renovated and remodeled to create a state-of-the-art spinning studio. Indoor cycling bikes will be permanently placed in the studio, creating additional space in the current group exercise class studio.

The new child watch center will feature 2,300 square feet of space, approximately four times that of the current space. The new center will provide age specific rooms, with age appropriate equipment and toys. It will be located adjacent to the multi-purpose room addition and playground for increased opportunities for gross motor skill development and outdoor activities.

Because of a shortfall in the Phase I Campaign, approximately $500,000 of debt remains. Eliminating that debt will also be a priority of the Phase II Capital Campaign.

"These are the drivers behind the exciting acceleration of Phase II of our facility expansion. We invite you to join us as we work together to raise $2.5 million in our 'Continue the Dream' capital campaign," said Wagner, "These project priorities are critical to our continued growth and development and essential to serving our increasing membership and program base."

Y leaders hope to break ground on the addition this fall and open the expansion next summer.

For information on how to help improve the YMCA, contact Bartholomew at (320) 834-9622 or at or visit the capital campaign's website at

EdenloffAl Edenloff Al Edenloff was born in Alexandria and later moved to Parkers Prairie where he graduated in 1979. While in high school, he wrote sports stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent. Al graduated from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communication and started at the Echo Press as a summer intern in 1983. He worked as a reporter until 1990 when he was named editor. He's earned several writing and reporting awards from the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA) and the National Newspaper Association. He was presented with the Minnesota News Council's Journalism Accountability Award and is a three-time winner of the MNA's Herman Roe Editorial Writing Award. In his spare time, Al enjoys golfing, fishing, biking, watching sports, cooking and reading mystery novels.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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