For more than a decade, the Morris Community YMCA has been serving residents in Grundy County by offering programs in the areas of Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. To further grow its impact in the community, the YMCA announced plans for the development of a new full-facility on 13.5-acres of land, which was generously donated by the families who own and operate “D” Construction, Inc. Located just west of Morris Grade School on DuPont Avenue, the new YMCA facility will be surrounded by property that is planned for residential development, and located adjacent to the existing baseball and softball fields and park land owned by the City of Morris. Initial plans for the new YMCA facility include an aquatics center, a gymnasium, meeting and gathering spaces, a state-of-the-art fitness facility, group exercise studios, a demonstration kitchen, and outdoor space for summer camps, youth sports, and before and after school programming.
From the very beginning, there was always a vision to bring a full facility YMCA to the residents of Grundy County. However, it was just over a year ago that 30 community leaders stepped forward to serve on the YMCA’s Capital Campaign Leadership Cabinet. This hard-working group of volunteers has been diligently working behind the scenes as part of the “quiet phase” of the campaign to attract major investors and strategic partners to the project.
While the YMCA hopes to open the new facility within the next several years, the size, scope and timing will ultimately be determined by the generosity of the community in support of this project. The Capital Campaign recently received a major boost thanks to the announcement of a lead investment from the City of Morris. With a unanimous vote last month, the City Council approved an investment of $2M in support of the project, which will be paid over the next five years.
With this action, Mayor Kopczick and the City Council voiced their support for this project and recognized that the Y is serving as a gathering place for residents of all ages. The Mayor and Council also spoke to the long-term economic development impact the project would have on the community. They noted that the Y would serve as a job creator during construction and once it opens, and become a valuable quality of life amenity, benefitting business attraction and retention efforts. The City carefully considered the opportunity to invest in the project and shared its strategy to use funds generated by gaming revenue as the source. In interviews following the announcement, the Mayor once again confirmed that property taxes would not be impacted by the City’s action to invest in the project.
The announcement of the City’s support provided an opportunity for the Y to confirm another exciting aspect of the future project. Since the Morris Community YMCA opened its doors in 2015, it has operated in partnership with Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers to enhance the health and wellness of Grundy County residents. Together, the Y and the Hospital have provided Grundy County residents with access to unparalleled health and wellness programs and a wide variety of programming in the renovated facility. Although details regarding the partnership are still in the planning phase, the two organizations are committed to working together in a future joint facility.
In the coming months, the Capital Campaign Leadership Cabinet will continue its work to secure additional support for this project. As updates become available and milestones in the effort are met, the Morris Community YMCA looks forward to sharing the news with its members and the Grundy County community at-large.
To learn more about the Morris Community YMCA, visit www.jolietymca.org.
• Missy Durkin is the Executive Director of the Greater Joliet Area YMCA