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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The fitness area at the Jackson R. Lehman Family YMCA is under construction. The YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne location is scheduled to open in June.

Thursday, March 16, 2017 10:12 pm

YMCA's $1 million request turned down

Rosa Salter Rodriguez | The Journal Gazette

The YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne will have to look elsewhere for $1 million for its Jackson R. Lehman branch.

The Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board turned down the agency’s funding request Thursday for its about-to-open facility in northeast Fort Wayne.

Capital Improvement Board member Lisa Starks said the Y’s grant proposal submitted in February didn’t fit with the CIB’s funding guidelines, which focus on giving money to projects that would not get off the ground without the board’s involvement.

John Stafford, consultant to the CIB, told the board the Y’s proposal likely would not have met the second objective of the CIB – funding projects to bring substantial economic development, including additional jobs.

But that wasn’t an issue because the Y’s request did not meet the first test, he said.   

The $14.8 million project along St. Joe Center Road west of Maplecrest Road is already built. Its June opening is now being marketed to area residents.

However, only $8.5 million has been raised, said Marty Pastura, the Y’s president and CEO. 

In a telephone interview after the vote, he said the denial was not unexpected.

"I’ve been doing this a long time, and … when you do a capital campaign you have surprises and disappointments," he said. "It’s not a surprise and I wouldn’t even call this a disappointment.

"To be honest with you, we have to turn over every rock that we have (to find funding), and we anticipate things like this."

Pastura said the Y would now go to a bank for a mortgage. He said it would be the first time the agency has needed to do that in its two decades of expansion into all quadrants of Fort Wayne.

The CIB denial would not affect the facility’s opening date, tentatively scheduled for the first week in June, or result in programming cuts, he said. But costs for some purchases for the new facility would be closely watched, he added.

Pastura said the Y now likely would not ask for an estimated $1 million grant from the Regional Cities initiative of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership as previously planned.

That entity has given money to finish projects close to completion. But it recently announced a temporary suspension of funding applications, citing its own need to conserve funds.

The Y earlier this year also was turned down for $3 million from Fort Wayne’s Legacy Fund.

Any mortgage would probably be for $4 million to $4.5 million to cover building costs of about $12.9 million. "Soft costs" associated with the opening would not be included, said Pastura, who added fundraising would also continue.

"We feel the Y will do well enough financially to pay the mortgage payments," Pastura said. He said the anticipated membership is between 12,000 and 17,000 including children – just under the membership at the Y’s Parkview and Jorgensen locations.

"This is the first project we have to borrow money for," Pastura said. "But we feel we’re in a good position financially, and that’s a good thing for the community to know."

The CIB gets its money from food and beverage taxes collected in the county. The board, which has proposed a downtown arena at more than $105 million, this year turned down a request for $2.5 million from the NewAllen Alliance, which proposed several park and trail improvements in east Allen County communities.

At that time, the board chose to match up to $1 million for the purchase of the former Cassad Depot in New Haven for use as an industrial park.   

rsalter@jg.net