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YMCAs find now’s the time to build

By Brian Johnson
Dolan Media Newswires

Minneapolis — YMCA Camp St. Croix is putting some modern touches on a century-old operation.

Last year, as the Hudson, Wis.-area camp marked its 100th anniversary, it completed a new dining hall and cabin renovations and built an underpass that connects the camp to an elementary school across the highway.

Plans call for a new lodge building, a two-level welcome center that will serve up to 300 children and other renovations to modernize the day camp and make the buildings more energy-efficient.

It’s all part of a $4 million capital campaign that took a hit during the great recession but is showing signs of coming back to life.

“At this point we have raised about $2.6 million, and we have a couple of major requests still out there,” said Tom Kranz, executive director of Camp St. Croix and vice president of camping for the YMCA of Greater St. Paul.

Plans are under way to build a new $12.7 million YMCA facility on an eight-acre site in Mukwonago. (Rendering courtesy of Kahler Slater)

Plans are under way to build a new $12.7 million YMCA facility on an eight-acre site in Mukwonago. (Rendering courtesy of Kahler Slater)

“We raised the bulk of that two years ago before the economy went in the tank. We were over $2 million at that point. We basically put everything on hold.”

The Y is now trying to raise the rest of the money to complete the camp, Kranz said.

A handful of other YMCA projects are in the works or were recently completed throughout the Twin Cities metro area.

The biggest is a planned 15,300-square-foot expansion of the 68,000-square-foot Southdale YMCA in Edina.

Cary Teague, Edina’s city planner, said the project will go before the Edina Planning Commission on Dec. 1, and the plans could be up for City Council approval Dec. 21.

The project calls for a new pool, fitness and aerobic studios, accessibility improvements and multipurpose spaces.

Other Y projects of note include a $4.5 million makeover of the Blaisdell YMCA in Minneapolis, which reopened in 2009, and a $6 million expansion of the White Bear Area YMCA that opened this fall.

On the camp front, the Y recently completed a $1.7 million capital campaign for Camp du Nord and is launching a $3 million campaign for Camp Widjiwagan, both of which are in the Ely area, said Tom Brinsko, president of the YMCA of Greater St. Paul.

Kranz said Camp St. Croix needs attention, in part because the buildings are aging and they weren’t designed for year-round use. Some of the 60 buildings at the camp date to the 1930s.

“Some of what we are doing is renovation,” he said. “The camp is 101 years old and we use it on a year-round basis. Originally, they were used as summer-only facilities.”

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