Smeiles to spearhead campaign for YMCA

By Micah Panczyk Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Portage County Commissioner Chris Smeiles recently agreed to chair a fundraising committee aimed at generating at least $2 million to bring a YMCA center to Ravenna Township. The center, which would stand on a roughly 30-acre parcel off of S.R. 59, would likely boast not only ball fields, but also an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a skateboard park. "I'm excited to be a part of a county-wide effort that would benefit our residents for generations to come," Smeiles said Monday. "It's going to be an awesome challenge to raise several million dollars and create a sustainable program. But it will be for the well being of us all." The cost of raising a 35,000-square-foot facility has been estimated at roughly $5 million, according to developer Doug McGee, a YMCA volunteer. "I'm very excited Chris has agreed to lead this committee," McGee said. "His commitment to bring the county a health and wellness facility, and the fact that he works closely with businesses seeking to enter or expand into Portage County, are a wonderful match. I think he can help us generate important interest in the proposal." The committee's $2 million goal would allow the YMCA to set monthly membership fees at $45 and $65 for individuals and families, respectively. Each of these fees would drop by $15 once the non-profit group paid the balance on its lease, McGee said previously. The committee will begin its formal fundraising efforts when it musters in "lead" donations 10 to 20 percent of the $2 million goal, McGee said. In addition, the campaign awaits a more precise estimate of the project's cost, Smeiles said. "We will not seek donations until we are comfortable with a more precise estimate of construction and maintenance costs," he said.

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