The Winona YMCA has about as many members as the building can handle after decades of successful growth. Now, plans for a new bridge over the Mississippi River just upstream of the current span include a widened intersection that would cut very close to the YMCA at Fourth and Winona streets. The bridge project would also reduce street parking and route more traffic past the YMCA building, which is frequented by children and families.
Because of the future bridge plans, YMCA leaders are eyeing a potential new location for the Winona YMCA, as well as a capital campaign that would help fund the new construction. While the decision has not yet been made about whether to relocate, officials are hoping to come up with a plan that will allow the YMCA to continue to provide for the community's growing need for health and wellness services.
"With the bridge and those changes, at that point, we're a landlocked island," said YMCA Executive Director Andy Blomsness, referring to the building. While he announced he'd retire this year after decades at the head of the organization, he said he would stay on to assist with any relocation plans and fundraising that might be on the horizon. "If relocation is a possibility, then I would stay on for a couple years to see it through," explained Blomsness.
The timing is just about perfect, he added. "As we looked at the potential for relocation, [I realized] there's no way I'd be able to [direct the organization and take the lead on relocation plans]," he said.
The issue comes down to safety for the children and families who use the YMCA facilities. "We have 300 kids a day here," said Blomsness. "That's why we are concerned with the safety of children crossing the road."
Keep reading the Winona Post for more on the YMCA plans.