Discussions for a potential YMCA in Yelm are heating up.
Mayor Joe DePinto met with Kyle Cronk, CEO of South Sound YMCA, on Nov. 16 to view different renderings of what a Yelm YMCA could look like if it is built.
The renderings included two swimming pools, one for laps and one for activity, space for the Yelm Timberland Library and Yelm Historical Museum, a full-sized basketball court, a workout area, an empty space for a medical partner and breakout activity rooms. He said it was similar in size to the Briggs YMCA in Olympia.
DePinto later told the Nisqually Valley News what some of the specifics of a Yelm-based YMCA branch would include.
“The biggest thing Kyle wanted to share with the City of Yelm was the new renderings. He’s used some from other cities that the YMCA has built new branches in, new Y’s in. We talked a little about the membership,” DePinto said. “We talked more about the partnerships, including medical facilities. There’s a portion in it that’s kind of left empty that we could fill in with a medical provider, whether it’s Providence or Multi Care. Either one of those has shown interest, and Multi Care has been at the table a few times now.”
He said the partnership between the city and the YMCA is at the point where he and Cronk intend to bring designs and different options to the City Council, as well as different funding models.
“Whatever we do, I want to ensure that there’s a vote of the people. I’ve always been for if the people want it, we’ll build it, and if not, we won’t,” DePinto said. “I hope that the City Council chooses to let the people have a vote on this, to have a say on whether or not they want it.”
DePinto is hopeful the council will vote on this in January and said the most common course to secure funding for a YMCA is through a construction bond, which would levy property taxes for the project.
“We’re very aware of when the schools are running their levy. We’re trying to make sure that we’re not on the same ballots, so we’re probably looking at the August 2024 ballot if the council decides to go ahead and put it on it,” DePinto said. “It’s one of the more affordable rates for the city, as well, because whatever we put on an election from the City of Yelm, we have to pay a fee as well.”
He added that the city’s fee could range from a couple thousand dollars if there are many items on the ballot, but could be spendier if it’s the only one. DePinto believes that Yelm will be in the ballpark of $5,000 to $7,000 spent for a potential ballot edition.
DePinto said Cronk will present to the council at a future meeting in December, followed by a study session with the council where members will discuss if they want to put a bond out to the people and whether it’s through property taxes or a different method.
“When it comes down to it, everyone has been asking for an indoor swimming pool. It was something I heard when I first started running for City Council in 2015. That’s kind of when the discussion first started with Kyle Cronk. It’s taken us this long, but it’s a huge benefit for the community,” DePinto said. “We’re still determining what’s going into the Y building. We’re definitely going to have partnerships with the library and our local museum here.”
With the addition of a pool, the mayor added the building would provide new opportunities for residents, including swimming lessons and a possible swim team for Yelm High School students.
“I don’t want to speak for (Yelm Community Schools), but I think they are very interested in having a swim team come back. That’s another partnership that could come out of this, as well as all the different amenities a YMCA could bring to Yelm,” DePinto said. “There’s a lot of lakes and rivers around here, and people need a place to learn how to swim. Currently, the closest [pool] is in Tumwater, which is 45 minutes away. This will provide an opportunity for children to learn how to swim, and provide a new opportunity for the schools.”
Most importantly, DePinto said there would be scholarship opportunities for people who want to become members but cannot afford one. He noted that prices are set at a price point designed specifically for people in Yelm.