YMCA within $1 Million of Expansion Fundraising Goal

A 16,300-square-foot addition to the Door County YMCA’s Sturgeon Bay facility is within $1 million of reaching its $9.9 million fundraising goal, organization representatives informed the Sturgeon Bay Common Council during its July 5 meeting.

The Door County YMCA is raising the money to increase group-exercise program space, including the wellness center and community-room spaces; improve accessibility; have a universal locker room and sauna; provide additional social/lobby space; and add a kitchen and youth activity center.

Tom Beerntsen, co-chair of the YMCA’s Capital Campaign Committee, said the addition of a kitchen will allow the organization to continue its year-round food program, as well as possibly offer cooking and other classes in the future. The new youth activity center will make it possible to offer the YMCA’s day camp program on-site and use the adjacent Peterson Park.

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“We’ve not been able to have the space on-site to conduct those youth programs,” Beernsten said. “We’ve also been not able, because of space, to have after-school programming, so this facility will allow us to do that.”

Door County YMCA CEO Heidi Erickson said the organization’s membership is getting back to pre-pandemic levels at around 8,800, with space once again “tight” at the Sturgeon Bay facility.

“Overall, right now, I can say that we’re doing really great as an organization, and we’re starting to grow again,” she said.

Erickson said the Door County YMCA has “begun to slowly ramp up” staffing with the spaces being added to the Sturgeon Bay facility.

“Once it’s built, then we’re already there,” she said. “We want to build the programs now to have that capacity then to move into that space.”

Penny Beerntsen, the other co-chair of the YMCA’s Capital Campaign Committee, reported that the organization has raised $8.9 million in gifts and pledges toward the fundraising goal.

“What’s amazing is that of the $8.9 million raised, more than $4.9 million was from new, first-time capital donors to the Y,” she said. “Gifts from Sturgeon Bay residents, businesses and foundations total slightly over $5.2 million, so it’s been a great response.”

To help raise the remaining $1 million, Penny Beerntsen said the YMCA has received a $500,000 challenge gift.

“It’s a dollar-for-dollar challenge grant, which means every $1 raised moving forward will increase our total raised by $2,” she said.

Penny Beernsten said the YMCA launched the community section of the fundraising campaign the first week in July, with breaking ground for the expansion planned for the week after Labor Day.

Tom Beerntsen said the organization’s board of directors is committed to building the addition without accumulating debt, which the fundraising campaign is on track to do. He said the Door County YMCA is in its 25th year at the current Sturgeon Bay facility, having opened in 1997. It added an aquatic center in 2000.

“Since that time, there hasn’t been any major capital improvement to the building, beyond just our ongoing maintenance to keep it in good shape, which it is today,” he said. “The challenge we have is that we now need more space.”

Tom Beerntsen said the entrance to the Sturgeon Bay facility will be renovated, moving the welcome desk to the north and expanding the lobby lounge. He said they’ll spend about $600,000 to renovate an existing weight room to build what’s called a “universal locker room,” which will have a series of changing rooms, along with suites that will have a shower, sink and toilet for use by parents with small children or people with mobility challenges.

The new Timmerman Family Wellness Center, with approximately 10,000 square feet on two levels, will be part of the addition. The wellness center is being named after the Timmerman family because of a $1 million gift for naming rights to the facility.

Mayor David Ward said the addition is a “wonderful investment for Sturgeon Bay.”

“It’s a huge asset for our city, so thank you for all your work,” Ward told the Door County YMCA representatives.

Last month, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals granted the Door County YMCA a variance from having to add 50 parking stalls – as could be required in the city code for the building addition – provided that the organization has a formal agreement with neighboring property for overflow parking, should it be necessary.

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