Bonney Lake wants YMCA sooner than later

Bonney Lake Councilmember Laurie Carter takes notes during a discussion on the YMCA. Carter arrived at the meeting with the donation jar in front of her.

With donations already beginning to pour in for the Sumner YMCA branch tentatively scheduled to open in 2013, Bonney Lake City Council member Laurie Carter knows exactly what it is going to take to get a facility on the Plateau open before 2018, the current target for Bonney Lake: Money.

With that in mind, Carter arrived at the March 3 council workshop with a large glass jar labeled “YMCA” and already filled more than halfway with coins and bills.

Counted after the meeting, Carter said the jar totaled $72, not including a $100 pledge from a business owner. It’s not much, but not bad, since the fundraising hasn’t officially started.

“I think that our fundraising in the jar was the tip of the iceberg of what we can do in Bonney Lake,” Crater said Friday, adding, “It’s a start.”

According to a presentation from Bob Ecklund, president and chief executive officer of the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap counties, and Communications Director Michelle LaRue, a pair of “complimentary facilities” are planned to be opened this decade in Sumner and Bonney Lake. LaRue said a study of the two cities and the surrounding area showed more than 50 percent of area respondents had a “lot of interest” in a YMCA, the highest return rate in the county.

“We know if we build a Y, they are going to come,” LaRue said, adding that they expect a total membership to the two buildings of about 25,000.

The study also shows approximately 100,000 square feet of space is needed in the two facilities.

“We know we need to build 100,000 square feet – at least – to meet the needs of the community,” Ecklund said.

Ecklund said the YMCA traditionally only builds one building at a time, meaning the plan would be to build and open the Sumner facility before starting in Bonney Lake.

But the openings are tied primarily to fundraising. So far, the city of Sumner has pledged $2.5 million for the project and has had land donated at the corner of state Route 410 and Wall Road. The YMCA anticipates breaking ground on the facility in 2012. Sumner’s YMCA is projected to be between 50,000 and 70,000 square feet at a cost of $13 million to $18 million.

Ecklund said Bonney Lake originally estimated a $350,000 donation on its facility, estimated to cost between $8 million and $13 million on a 30,000- to 50,000-square-foot building.

Ecklund told the council there are three possibilities for openings, based on fundraising. The first, traditional option has the city working with the YMCA to raise money through donations and a $3 million to $5 million YMCA bond with a projected opening of 2018.

Next is “city bond” option in which the city could donate $10 million with an additional $5 million to $8 million coming through a YMCA bond. That option projects an opening of 2015.

The third option is a “YMCA – City Community Center” option in which the city would fund the entire center and the YMCA would handle all operating costs. Ecklund said this option could potentially lead to a simultaneous opening of both facilities in 2014.

“We’d cut the ribbon in both places at exactly the same time and that’s pretty exciting,” he said.

Mayor Neil Johnson said in a perfect world, he’d like to see both facilities open together.

“I think it would be great for the region as a whole,” he said.

Johnson said the primary purpose of the meeting with the YMCA officials was to determine what can be done to open the facility before 2018. The city has already re-zoned land in the WSU Demonstration Forest for the YMCA and Johnson said he is trying to gauge the council’s “comfort zone” on funding.

“This was the first step to get a clear picture of what needs to be done,” he said.

Johnson said recent youth surveys in the city show more than 60 percent of the youth in Bonney Lake and Sumner want a YMCA.

Carter agreed.

“It’s mostly for the kids,” she said. “It’s a place to go and a place to work.

“We have the land,” she added. “We’re ready to go.”

Johnson said he foresees the city pledging at least $2.5 million – to match its neighbors in the Valley – and up to $5 million in public donations, a number he thinks is doable.

“This is where Bonney Lake needs to step up and take the lead,” he said. “I want the Y here sooner rather than later.”