ELKHART - Five entities came together today to confirm their commitment to the collaboration in support of the Community Foundation of Elkhart County and Beacon Health System’s effort to build a state-of-the-art medical fitness, aquatics and community complex at the former Elkhart EYCC/YMCA location.

According to Tom Housand, project visionary and prior EYCC/YMCA board chair, the estimated $55 million facility will be a community, medical fitness and aquatics facility that will be home to Beacon Health and Fitness, the Elkhart Community Schools swimming and aquatic programs, Elkhart United Aquatics, and various local and regional swim competitions.

Plans call for an early 2019 opening and officials say they plan to attract and host future amateur championships in swimming, as well as regional and state high school competitions.

“The complex will be a ‘game changer’ in terms of offering area athletes a training and competition-level swimming and diving facility. It will be one of four in the country with the capabilities to facilitate the combination of aquatics, medical fitness and community engagement,” said Pete McCown, President of the Community Foundation of Elkhart County.

“I am excited for our community and for all the families in our area,” said Rob Haworth, Superintendent of Elkhart Community Schools. “There is not a community aquatics facility in our region that exists at this level of offering training, competition, learning programs and leisure facilities for our local athletes and families.”

Haworth adds, “Over the past several years, we have been making investments in our 40-year-old pools.  The facilities simply are not going to last and they do not come equipped with the type of resources this complex provides for students,” he said. “Having an aquatics and fitness venue like this which we can collectively utilize, share and attract families to our community is going to be amazing.”

Phil Newbold, CEO of Beacon Health System shares, “Beacon Health and Fitness will offer the same standard for medical fitness that we provide in South Bend and Mishawaka. We will offer health-related fitness programs including sports medicine, orthopedics, and physical therapy, along with a full medical fitness center, fitness pool, gymnasium, suspended running track and racquetball courts.”

The complex will be approximately 170,000 square-foot building with a 66-meter by 25-meter competition swimming pool. There will be an attached diving well with 5-meter and 3-meter platforms and multiple 1-meter boards. The natatorium will seat 1,200 spectators.

There will also be a 25-yard fitness pool, a therapeutic pool, wet classroom, dry training space, member, public and student locker rooms, an additional gymnasium, a large community atrium, outdoor patio with access to walking trails, and multi-purpose rooms for meetings and special occasions.

In addition to regional and high school competitions, young children and families will be able to use the facility for open and recreational swimming and sports such as basketball, pickleball, volleyball and other community programmed classes. Programs will range from an array of swimming and youth sports programs and adult programs.

Special Olympics events can also be held at the community pool, McCown added, along with multiple spaces for other not-for-profit and community programs.

Phil Newbold, CEO of Beacon Health System shared that Beacon will operate the facility, “Whether you are a competitive athlete, a senior citizen, or a family seeking a diverse set of programs for everyone – this facility will truly improve the quality of life in our county and in our region.”

“The project has a strong financial commitment from the local community and the Regional Cities Initiative,” states Bob Deputy, member of the fundraising team. “We expect to have the total $65 million raised by the Spring 2017 groundbreaking. Currently, we have just under five million dollars left to raise. This partnership will enhance the economic impact in the county with hotel stays and restaurant visits. Additional downtown development is already underway in the River District where the Center is located.”  

Deputy also stated, “It is very important to note that the $65 million includes a $10 million endowment supported by local philanthropy and The Community Foundation of Elkhart County which will sustain the facility by annually providing $500,000 to the operational budget for maintenance and repairs, year after year.”

Organizers confirm that the total funding for the “Elkhart Heath, Fitness, Aquatics and Community Center” (official name to be determined) is slated to be $65 million and will primarily be provided by the Elkhart philanthropic community, the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, Beacon Health System, Regional Cities Initiative, Elkhart Community Schools and the City of Elkhart. Regional Cities funds of nine million dollars have been awarded. Operational funding will be achieved via memberships, rental agreements, and other community and outside groups that will utilize these facilities.

Pete McCown thanked all the entities for coming together to bring this project to reality as “the premier health, medical fitness, aquatics and community complex in the region.”  

“And,” he added, “we know that once someone visits, they will be back.”

An important addition to the partnership is the recent announcement of the City of Elkhart pursuing the contribution of two million dollars toward the south parking lot which will provide nearly half of the required parking for the facility.

Learn more at: www.elkhartcenter.com

Also visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Elkhart-Center-Project-1641723212788730/