CHESTERT0N, IN, AUGUST 9, 2022 – The Duneland School Corporation (DSC) and the Duneland YMCA (YMCA) will begin talks to transform the current Chesterton Middle School (CMS) into an education, health, and wellness hub. Responding to DSC’s request for a community partner, the YMCA is working to be a catalyst for change and collaboration in Chesterton and the Duneland communities through the development of a healthy living campus on the current middle school site.
The YMCA and DSC have a long and successful history of program, service, and facility-based partnership. The development of the CMS site as the new home of the YMCA would be a continuation and expansion of the relationship between the two organizations. The Y is currently engaged in collaborative discussions with a wide variety of non-profit agencies and major employers in the region. Included in this group of potential, collocated partners are: Town of Chesterton, Duneland Chamber of Commerce, Franciscan Health, Northshore Health Centers, Jacob’s Ladder, Porter Starke Services, and Visiting Nurses Association.
“To better address the expectations of the Y’s members, and meet the needs of the community, the Y was looking to renovate or replace our current facility,” said YMCA Board Chair Elizabeth Adcock. “The opportunity presented by the Duneland School Corporation, and the middle school site will allow the Y to exceed member expectations as well as meet current and emerging needs in collaboration with providers and employers whose work compliments, supplements and supports our own.”
Chesterton Middle School, located between West Morgan Avenue and Porter Avenue in Chesterton, was previously the site of Chesterton High School from 1922-2000. As part of its long-term capital improvement plan to reduce operational costs, DSC is moving from nine school buildings to eight. Plans call for DSC to continue housing district administrative offices, student programs in early childhood, virtual, and alternative education, a wellness clinic for corporation employees, and a 25-meter competition pool for competitive club and school programs on the east side of the current CMS site. Parts of the building west of the pool are not part of future plans and set to close when construction at the Liberty and Westchester campuses is completed. Due to construction delays, the Liberty and Westchester campuses will not be ready for students in grades 7th & 8th until August 2024. As a result, CMS will continue to host 7th & 8th grade students through May 2024. The facility, in need of extensive renovation and site work, will be reimagined and repurposed by the YMCA and its partners.
“Long-term sustainability, evolving relevance, and transformational impact are strategic priorities for the YMCA,” said YMCA CEO Dave Kasarda. “The opportunity presented to the YMCA and our potential partners allows us to address these mandates as well as collaboratively multiply resources, significantly expand our reach and increase access to needed programs and services across a broader cross-section of the Duneland communities.”
The YMCA has moved through a comprehensive planning and investigative process seeking input and direction from its membership and community leaders, as well as current and potential partners.
This insight, along with information provided by nationally recognized consultants and market research has helped the Y envision itself as a catalyst for positive change and collaboration. The YMCA’s volunteer leadership has chosen to engage the school corporation on the redevelopment of the middle school property as a result of its study, the recommendation of its consultants and the endorsement of potential partners.
“The Y has been very deliberate and disciplined in its approach to identifying community needs, seeking collaborative partners and considering locations that will enhance operations,” said Elizabeth Adcock. “We believe that the CMS site and an expanded relationship with DSC affords the Y the best opportunity to change the way we and are partners support each other and serve the community.”
The YMCA is a nonprofit organization, serving over 5,000 people annually via programs, outreach, and events throughout the Duneland Communities. The Duneland YMCA is part of the national YMCA movement, operating in 10,000 communities across the US. The YMCA, which does not deny services due to an inability to pay, serves the community by providing opportunities for individuals of all walks of life focusing on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.
“The school corporation is excited about the possibilities this partnership presents for extended and innovative use of the CMS site in service to the entire community,” said Duneland School Corporation Superintendent of Schools Dr. Chip Pettit. “The School Board and I look forward to participating in the development process with the Y and its impressive list of potential partners.”