Polk County residents are interested in a proposed new YMCA, and they’re ready with their checkbooks to support it.
This finding was presented to the Polk County Board of Commissioners on Monday evening by Michael Baughman, YMCA Development Committee Chair and LaTisha Steele, a consultant with Decker Steele and Associates, after the committee reviewed just over 3,000 survey responses received from residents.
The survey was developed to allow the committee to assess community demographics, residents’ desires for a facility, and the community’s ability to financially get the facility off the ground and sustain it into the future.
According to Steele, the largest group of survey respondents fall into the “empty nester” category, or those between the ages of 55 and 70, or 34%. More than 71 accounted for nearly 13 percent of respondents. People aged 18 to 54, or households likely to have children, accounted for 53% of respondents. Half of the respondents had no children at home; the other half did.
“That 50/50 split is good,” according to Steele, who added that “the more people who want to join a family unit, the more sustainable the facility will be over time.”
Also, says Steele, the number of households with two adults, 67%, is “well above average” and is a positive indicator for a financially viable facility.
Regarding empty nests, Steele said, “This facility would be built for the second half of a person’s life and is still sustainable for this age group.”
Wishes for the establishment
An indoor pool tops the property’s wish list, with 84 percent approval. Rounding out the list are fitness classes (Zumba, kickboxing, indoor cycling, yoga), fitness center (with cardio and strength-training equipment), gym for basketball, volleyball, and pickleball (for adults and youth), an indoor walking and running track, and a childcare area.
What do respondents want to do in the indoor pool? Water aerobics, lap swimming and family swimming are at the top of the list, followed by swimming lessons for young people and adults.
“The older population wants water aerobics,” Steele said, adding that she was shocked at how far people traveled out of the county to attend water aerobics classes. “Older people want water therapy in a warmer environment.”
The committee dug deeper into the types of group fitness classes respondents wanted access to and found that yoga, strength training (bodyweight, weightlifting, cross-training), aerobics (step, high-intensity training, dance cardio), cycling or spin, and Zumba was the most popular.
“We need a multifunctional space,” Baughman said.
Childcare and children’s programs were of interest to about a quarter of respondents, who indicated that summer camps, after-school care (5-12 years), preschool and infant care full-time and half-day preschool and infant care were needed.
The committee found an overwhelming number of respondents (2,470 out of 3,084) who indicated that they would be likely to join the YMCA.
They found that 1,184 people would be willing to financially support building a YMCA with a donation. The committee has a list of more than 800 names, contacts and emails of those willing to support the project, according to Baughman, who adds that the committee’s fundraising task force is organizing to determine how to engage this. listing.
“From what I hear, for a community of this size, having so many people willing to support it with a donation is a big deal,” he said.
Steele echoed his comments. “It’s phenomenal. Some people respond with the amount of donation they are willing to give.
“We don’t have any formal recommendations at this point,” Baughman said. “We started this process by trying to answer the question, ‘Can we keep it in this community?’ According to survey data, we have enough interest from people willing to pay an ongoing membership that we can maintain a YMCA community center here as long as it is not overwhelmed by a heavy debt.
“We don’t hear or see anything telling us we can’t do that here,” he added. “There is a lot of positivity and support. We have outside experts confirming this. We have more support than we thought.
The committee has not yet explored the costs and size of the construction, but according to Baughman, a fundraising task force is being organized and the committee is working to clarify the location and the installation size.