From: Andy Blomsness, YMCA Executive Director
Pete Guidinger, YMCA Board President
Overall, the new Highway 43 bridge plan represents a viable and positive long-term solution for the Winona community and many of its businesses and citizens. As a result the YMCA supports the project. However, we are compelled to address the statement that has been in various community communications: “There is no impact on the YMCA.”
Although there are benefits to the overall Winona area community, not everyone wins with this project. It presents significant challenges to our YMCA’s long-term viability. Four lanes of bridge traffic converging at the Y building will make member and program participant arrival and departure significantly more difficult and dangerous. The projected increase in car and truck traffic compounds this concern. The loss of street parking on all four sides of the Y is a very real loss, with limited parking already causing difficulty to members. Parking across these busy streets has been discussed but is not a reasonable or safe option for anyone utilizing the YMCA. The Y has 4,000 members - 56% of which are young families, children, seniors, and persons with disabilities; and over 6,000 members and nonmembers participate in YMCA programs each year, so these safety risks are grave concerns.
The proposed new Highway 43 bridge project will not take any of the YMCA’s actual physical property and therefore we have been disappointingly informed that financial consideration from MNDOT is not an option. We fear the YMCA will become an island in the middle of these very busy intersections.
Through 126 years of community support, the Winona Family YMCA has had the privilege of providing children, adults, and families in our community with opportunities to get and stay healthy, make meaningful connections, and have fun. We are committed to building upon this legacy, now and in the future.
Strategic planning began over two years ago when plans for a new bridge were announced. The YMCA Board of Directors began focusing on the very challenging and exciting planning for relocation and community collaboration to make sure the Y continues to be a vital part of the Winona community. The vision of the Winona Family YMCA is to work with others to boldly lead the way to transform health and wellness in the Winona area.