Posted on 09/12/2016 at 12:04 PM by YMCA of Greater Des Moines
Construction could begin within a few weeks at the downtown facility, with completion expected by early 2018
DES MOINES, Iowa – (Sept. 12, 2016) – Officials with the YMCA of Greater Des Moines announced today that financing is in place to complete construction of the aquatics center at the Wellmark YMCA in downtown Des Moines.
Dave Schwartz, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines, made the announcement at a news conference today in the William C. Knapp Leadership Center at the Wellmark Y. “We have had great support from our members, donors, the City of Des Moines, Polk County and the state of Iowa,” Schwartz said. “We have appreciated everyone’s patience as we worked through the many details required to make a project of this magnitude a reality.”
The Wellmark Y opened in January 2015 in a building at 501 Grand formerly occupied by the Polk County Convention Center. Part of the plan for the facility was an aquatics center featuring a 50-meter Olympic-size swimming pool. Work on the aquatics center stalled when anticipated funding fell through, leaving the YMCA about $6 million short of the money needed to complete the facility.
The YMCA has now lined up the funding necessary to finish the project. Jim Cownie, who co-chaired the fundraising effort along with Bill Knapp, said the majority of the additional funding came from private individuals and businesses, along with a Vision Iowa grant and support from Polk County.
“We live in an unbelievably generous community,” Cownie said. “The community recognized this opportunity for a world-class aquatics facility and stepped up as it always does with total cooperation to raise the funds to finish the project.”
Cownie praised Knapp for spearheading the initial fundraising for the Wellmark Y and the additional funding needed for the aquatics center. “Bill was the key guy from the beginning,” he said. “When he speaks, people listen.”
Rick Tollakson, incoming YMCA board chair and president and CEO of Hubbell Realty Company, has been working with architects and contractors on the next phase of construction of the aquatics center. He said construction activity should resume in the next few weeks, with completion anticipated in January of 2018.
“We are excited,” Tollakson said. “This is the moment for which we have all been working very hard. We have outlined an aggressive construction schedule, but the contractors have assured me we can meet that January 2018 opening date.”
YMCA president and former Iowa Governor Chet Culver said the new Wellmark Y aquatics center provides an opportunity “to transform swimming in Iowa.”
“We had more than a dozen Iowa swimmers competing at this year’s Olympic swimming trials in Omaha,” Culver said. “Hopefully, with this new facility, we could easily see that number increase to two or three dozen for the Olympic trials in 2020.”
Culver said an aquatics facility with an Olympic-sized pool in downtown Des Moines positions the city to bid for major regional and national swimming competitions – events that bring tourism dollars to the community.
“I am very committed to working tirelessly to get this project completed on time and on budget,” Culver said. “Our goal is to have an aquatics center that meets the expectations of our members, our donors, our community and competitive athletes, present and future.”
For more information contact:
Ruth Comer, Director of Media Relations and Marketing, YMCA of Greater Des Moines
(515) 471-8519 Office // (515)868-2061 Mobile
Ruth.Comer@dmymca.org // Twitter: @YNewsDM