Plans for a shared YMCA/library building in Vandalia have moved toward determining whether the community supports the project.
With a partial-funding commitment from the Rual Morris Foundation, a movement from initial brainstorming that led to the building’s design has progressed into more finite details — which includes the question “will you use it?”
At a meeting on Wednesday, October 24, Paul Seigfreid, of the Rual Morris Foundation, said the group is committed to paying one-for-one on the project at a cost of $750,000. The project is estimated at $1.5 million for a 15,000 square-foot structure. He said the foundation’s portion will be paid over a 40 year period and is “last-dollar” funding meaning “firm, irrevocable pledges” for up-front costs and community support are required for the group to pay out.
“They have agreed to a considerable donation to move this project forward,” Vandalia City Administrator Alan Winders said. “That’s a significant amount of money and we appreciate very much the support.”
However, Winders said the project is still short on dough, as a $1 million commitment was needed to secure tax credits from the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP), of which there is a six month window for the next round of applications.
He said the project needed to get in a position with NAP credits in the realm of $500,000, which needed Rual Morris to commit funding a debt service of $1 million — though Winders affirmed he is grateful of Rual Morris’ commitment.
He said USDA Rural Development loans are still available and both NAP and USDA funding avenues will be pursued, along with other available grant opportunities.
Winders said a tax levy or ballot initiative are not being considered to cover up-front costs, as the projects needs to be kept from under the City of Vandalia’s governmental umbrella of options.
For now, a more finite goal is to determine whether people in fact want and will use a YMCA, and to help answer that question a feasibility study is needed.
“The purpose is fairly simple, it does several things,” Seigfreid said. “It conditions the community for the development, it gets direct feed back from the community as to what is needed or what is wanted within the community, it starts the process of fund raising for the second stage of development — of developing layout and floor plans for the facilities, what other things are needed or wanted within the facility — and it develops the community spirit. Frankly without that community spirit, its not going to go.”
“It would be much easier for people to talk about the feasibility of a YMCA if construction is fully-funded, but it would also be very unusual,” Winders said. “That’s not how it works. Somebody from the YMCA USA resource directors will come to Vandalia and do a feasibility study.”
“(The study) is very detailed,” said Roger Young, Audrain County’s eastern district associate commissioner.
“They want to know if people will support it, not just go to it — but financially as well. People in the area, if they don’t want a (YMCA), there’s really no reason to build it.”
Winders said if the community shows that it won’t support a YMCA, plans will still move forward for renovating or rebuilding the library portion of the project.