The YMCA is working towards building an office in Sugar City, according to a city council meeting held April 27.
“This is a potential project that the Idaho Falls YMCA is exploring and is not yet set in stone,” said Monica Bitrick, interim CEO of the Idaho Falls YMCA.
David Ogden, mayor of Sugar City, said he is excited about the prospect of a YMCA. He said it will provide family-oriented activities and recreation for Sugar City.
“We have a variety of smaller, privately-run athletic groups, such as soccer and baseball, that are being run independently by private individuals,” Ogden said. “What the YMCA might be able to provide is a way to bring all those separate entities together.”
Bitrick said that Ryan Lerwill, a developer for Countrywide Properties Group and a Sugar City resident, approached their management team and the board of directors about five years ago about the potential of a Sugar City YMCA.
Lerwill said that the YMCA is perfect for Sugar City because of their youth-centered themes.
Lerwill said he wants to bring more economic growth to Sugar City.
“The YMCA is only the beginning of our company’s 20-year plan for slow, controlled, smart growth,” Lerwill said.
Sugar City is a mostly residential area, according to the city’s website, but the population is ready to grow.
“I’m a firm believer that in economic development, in your growth plan, you need diversity,” Ogden said. “It’s not only about homes. It’s also about the business community, the industrial community, the multi-family community.”
Ogden said funding for the project would come from support from business, entities and the community. Ogden does not anticipate the use of tax dollars.
“Truly successful campaigns like this come from strong partnerships of business, government and communities partnering together for a common cause,” Bitrick said.
Bitrick said he anticipates that it will take four to five years to get the funding they need to build the YMCA.
“The capital planning process will likely take us a number of months to complete before we can determine if we want to fully move forward,” Bitrick said. “This includes some pretty concrete steps like a feasibility study and market research.”
Bitrick said that they want to make sure that the YMCA Sugar City facility would be sustainable long-term. Unless funding is secured, the project is unlikely to move forward.
Bitrick mentioned that the Latter-day Saint community has provided support for other non-profits in Eastern Idaho, not necessarily with money, but with time and service.
“We’re Christian,” Lerwill said. “[The YMCA] is a Christian organization.”
Bitrick said the Idaho Falls YMCA is looking for an easily accessible location that best serves the community.
“We have good partners in the Lerwills and in the YMCA people,” Ogden said.
Odgen said everyone he has talked to about the project has been excited. He has not heard anything negative.
The YMCA has three areas of focus, according to their website: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
“We believe that to bring about meaningful change in individuals and communities, we must be focused and accountable,” according to YMCA.net. “At the Y, we measure the success of our cause by how well we engage communities in our three areas of focus.”
Lerwill said the YMCA is a national organization, but it will focus on the needs of Sugar City.
“I think we have a ways to go to create it, but I’m excited about it,” said Ogden. “We can put together something that will work well.”
Bitrick said that the Sugar City YMCA would serve all surrounding communities: Rexburg, Driggs, Victor, St. Anthony, Island Park, and maybe even Jackson Hole.