New aquatic center to be built in Elkhart


Community leaders say it's something Elkhart needs.

A 170-thousand square foot facility will house swimming pools, exercise equipment, a track and community center.

The new facility will fill the void left when the old YMCA was closed.

A lot of community partners invested in this project, including Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese.

"It's rather dilapidated, a little bit depressing but just hold on to your seats because it's going to be extremely impressive over the course of the next several months," Neese said.

The YMCA used to be a community gathering place, but it was poorly built, and people stopped paying for memberships.

Community leaders knew they needed something better, so they designed the new facility and started collecting money.

Jill Sigsbee is a Community Foundation Board Member.

"Knowing that it would be a high class, world-class building brought people to the table immediately. As long as they knew that it would be something that was sustainable and something that would even bring in extra people to our community," Sigsbee said.

There are 5 partners involved on the project -- Beacon Health System, the Community Foundation, Elkhart Community Schools, the city, and the community.

Each has its own expectations and needs for the space.

"When you get this many groups together you have lots of i's to dot and t's to cross," Sigsbee said.

The groups called in a third party consultant, who had experience in this type of facility.

Beacon CFO Jeff Costello said the consultant was a positive addition.

"He really helped us think about how the relationships would come together in a way that would ultimately culminate in the best use of the facility," Costello said.

The group has succeeded by working together,

"It's not something that happens in every community, to get the city and the schools and the community foundation and businesses to all look at one project and say yes this is what we want," Sigsbee said.

"We think that there isn't any caution at this point on our behalf. We think that this is definitely the right model and we're extremely excited about it," Costello said.

The partnership could really benefit the community.

The facility will bring health benefits, and could bring in hundreds of jobs to the community.

Mayor Neese says the unique nature of the center will also attract tourism, which could attract other businesses to the area.

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