WECRD and Y set timeline for capital campaign

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

An effort aimed at raising more than a half million dollars to build a community recreation center in Mountain Home is now scheduled to start in November.

Details on the capital campaign and a revised timeline to build the facility were outlined during a public hearing Aug. 21 before the Western Elmore County Recreation District board of directors.

"Great things are on the horizon," said Heather Kimmel, vice president and chief fund development officer with the Treasure Valley YMCA.

The capital campaign represents the final step before construction can start on the 33,000-square-foot recreation complex. Putting that into perspective, the facility would be more than twice the size of the existing Parks and Recreation Activity Center next to St. Luke's Elmore hospital.

If built, the Treasure Valley YMCA and local recreation district would manage the complex, which would be located on South 18th East Street across from Mountain Home Junior High School.

For the project to meet the current deadlines outlined by the YMCA at last week's meeting, the campaign needs to raise at least $600,000 over a 10-month period to build the $5.1 million recreation facility. Those dollars would tie into $4.5 million in grant funding and collected tax revenues set aside specifically for the building's construction.

During last week's meeting, the YMCA announced that it was moving forward with creating a leadership and fundraising committee that would head the capital campaign. It could take up to two months to form the all-volunteer group in time for the actual campaign to begin.

"We're going to start rallying the volunteers," Kimmel said.

Meanwhile, the recreation district approved plans to create a task force that would start the process of selecting an architect to actually design the building. The all-volunteer group would also help during "other aspects of the building and construction portion of this project," Kimmel said.

Seven individuals have already committed to serving on the task force, including three from the Treasure Valley YMCA with the other volunteers coming from the Mountain Home area. The group was scheduled to meet earlier this week.

"We are moving forward and fast," said board vice president Mollie Marsh regarding the progress made to date.

In September, the task force is expected to present a ranked list of recommended architects to the recreation district board, who would then make the final selection.

In the following months, the task force would continue to work with the architect during the design phase, along with selecting the contractor that would actually build the recreation facility.

Details on what the community YMCA facility will actually include are still under review and could change once the final plans are drawn, said Keyra Elmo, who was hired by the Treasure Valley YMCA in April to head the capital campaign effort. Plans presented at public hearings in recent years had mentioned basketball courts and an indoor running track with additional space dedicated to other fitness and recreation outlets. However, it's not certain if some of these amenities will remain in the final version.

While original plans called for building an indoor pool when the complex was ready to expand once the initial facility was built, current plans do not call for building a pool, Elmo added.

During last week's meeting, Kimmel outlined several milestones the project must meet before construction can actually start. If the key checkpoints are not met by these deadlines, the entire project could come to a "crashing halt" until issues are addressed to get things restarted, Kimmel said.

The first key decision comes in November when the YMCA and recreation district receive refined cost estimates to build the recreation center based on the architectural plans. Those estimates will include how much money the capital campaign will need to raise in addition to the amount of money needed to operate the facility on a day-to-day basis. The cash flow projections are expected to be finalized by the end of December.

The second major checkpoint will follow in November 2014 when the YMCA and recreation district determine when ground will actually be broken on the community recreation facility. That date is all based on the progress made during the capital campaign and how much money is in hand by that date.

If everything remains on track, the YMCA and recreation district would begin the process of selecting a contractor to build the facility in the last quarter of 2014.

Pending the outcome of the capital campaign, construction would begin in early 2015 with the doors due to open about 10 months later.

As the process continues over the next year, the YMCA expects it will have a better idea on when things will fall into place, Kimmel said.

Last week's meeting comes as the recreation district approved its $490,000 budget for the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.