Local group rallying for creation of YMCA in Decorah

(From News Reports)

 

Although plans for building a local community center have never come to fruition, a group of Decorah residents wants to revisit the idea. Decorah resident Sara Wientzen recently made a presentation to the Decorah Parks and Recreation Board regarding the need for a community center that would serve the whole county.

 

“In the past 15 years, there have been three extensive studies for building a community center to serve Decorah and Winneshiek County for fitness and wellness programs and meeting space,” said Wientzen.

 

Wientzen, who has been working with a newly developed steering committee including Harlan Satrom and Jeff and Christy Tomlinson, said there were reasons none of these studies ever came to fruition. She cited a variety of reasons, such “as competing school bond initiatives, an inability to come to final agreements with Luther College, and finally, and perhaps the biggest reason, the cost.”

 

She said there also has historically been a reluctance to compete with existing fitness centers, such as RC 10, now closed, and Team Rehab, which recently discontinued its fitness/wellness offerings. “Team Rehab was the last presence of a fitness center that offered popular wellness programs, like Silver Sneakers and Young at Heart for seniors … Study after study affirms that having a community fitness and wellness center is important to Winneshiek County residents,” she said.

 

Wientzen said the programs Team Rehab offered for seniors were an important social outlet for them. “This is a big deal,” she said, adding she is concerned that without that, older residents could experience isolation.

 

Wientzen, who has three small children, said she feels an important component of any wellness center should be childcare in the form of space for the children to play and exercise.

 

“If I’m going to be healthy and active, I want my kids to be healthy and active. Why not have a kids’ place with soft play equipment, a playground or somewhere for them to move around,” she said.

 

Wientzen said after her presentation to Decorah Parks and Recreation, the steering committee has discussed getting the ball rolling on a community center that would be multi-generational and could include everything from after-school activities for children to regular programs for seniors.

 

“The committee decided to pursue a YMCA center and plans to proceed in a two-stage process: First, we would like to obtain an immediate interim facility with the “Y” logo and Y principles; Secondly, an end goal is building a family friendly Y community center that allows all, regardless of age, income, or background an opportunity to learn grow and thrive,’” she said.

 

She said due to space limitations, an interim facility may not be able to immediately offer all the typical Y activities; however, it will put forth the Y “presence,” with principles that will follow those of the permanent facility.

 

The steering committee is actively seeking residents who are interested in becoming part of the immediate planning process for the interim facility, and also those desiring to be part of the visioning committee, which would build upon past studies, aiming for a full-fledged family focused Y to serve Winneshiek County. Those interested in participating should email ymcadecoraharea@gmail.com.

 

Source: Lissa Blake, www.decorahnewspapers.com, January 18, 2017.

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