CHESTERT0N, IN, April 4, 2023 – A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Duneland Family YMCA and the Duneland School Corporation (DSC) has been executed by the Duneland School Board of Directors. The MOU was unanimously supported by the Board of Directors at their meeting last night.
The MOU gives the YMCA the right to renovate and build on the portion of the Chesterton Middle School (CMS) site not designated for demolition or continued use by the DSC. The MOU allows the YMCA and its collaborative partners to reimagine, repurpose and add to the remaining facility and surrounding real estate. The new Duneland YMCA and the YMCA Healthy Living Campus it will anchor are being designed to serve as an education, health, and social equity hub accessible to all Duneland community residents.
The Duneland YMCA and their partners shared evolving plans for the reimagined use of Chesterton Middle School and the school site at the DSC Board meeting. The development of the YMCA Healthy Living Campus and the creation of a community park are the results of over two years of input, conversation, and planning. The YMCA’s Board of Directors has engaged a broad cross-section of community leaders, including representatives of over a dozen local non-profits, service providers, and businesses. The Duneland School Corporation Board of Education’s endorsement of the plan concludes over a year of dialogue with Duneland YMCA CEO Dave Kasarda and members of the YMCA’s Board of Directors.
“At the Y, strengthening community is our cause. We believe that positive, lasting personal and social change can only come about when we all work together to invest in our kids, our health, and our neighbors,” said Dave Kasarda. “The new YMCA, the Healthy Living Campus it will anchor, and the creation of a community park will help advance the Y’s cause and stand as a testament to the visionary leadership of the YMCA, the DSC Board, and our partners.”
Chesterton Middle School (CMS), located between West Morgan Avenue and Porter Avenue in Chesterton, served as Chesterton High School from 1924-2000. The demolition of roughly 75% of the existing building and the reduction of school sites from nine to eight are part of the school corporation’s long-term capital improvement plan to reduce operational costs.
Plans call for DSC to continue housing district administrative offices, student programs in early childhood, career and technical, virtual, alternative and special education on the CMS site. On the east side of the current CMS site, a wellness clinic for corporation employees and students, a 25-meter competition pool for competitive club and school programs will remain. The section of the building west of the pool is not part of the plans and is set to close when construction is completed at the Liberty and Westchester campuses.
Due to construction delays, the Liberty and Westchester campuses will not be ready for 7th & 8th grade students until August 2024. As a result, CMS will continue to function as a traditional middle school through June 2024. The CMS facility, needing extensive renovation and site work, will be partly demolished with the balance of the building and property reimagined and repurposed by the YMCA and its partners.
The YMCA has moved through a comprehensive planning and investigative process, seeking input and direction from its membership, community leaders, and current and potential partners. This insight and information have been coupled with direction from nationally recognized consultants and market research. The process has helped the Y envision itself as a catalyst for positive change and collaboration. After sharing the findings and recommendations, the enthusiastic support of potential partners moved the YMCA’s volunteer leadership to reach out to a receptive DSC Board of Trustees and Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Chip Pettit.
“The school corporation is excited about the possibilities this partnership presents for extended and innovative use of the CMS site in service to the community,” said Dr. Chip Pettit. “The School Board and I look forward to participating in the design and development process with the Y and its impressive list of potential partners.”
The current Duneland YMCA facility is landlocked and in need of significant repair and renovation. The Y building, encompassing approximately 27,000 square feet and located at 215 Roosevelt Street, is undersized for the Y’s growing membership base, expanding program portfolio, and collaborative aspirations. The design of a contemporary, full-facility YMCA will include a combination of renovated space within the remaining CMS building and newly constructed space. Not including common space shared with the Y’s collocated partners or renovated/new space built for partner use, the new Duneland YMCA will offer between 45,000 and 55,000 square feet to members, program participants, and guests.
The YMCA has engaged Gro Development Inc., the nation’s leading designer of YMCA stand-alone and collaborative facilities, to assist in program and service-focused design. Gro officials will be leading YMCA volunteers and staff in the selection of local architects, engineers, and construction professionals to advance the Project. Once on board, the YMCA’s construction manager, architects, and engineers will bring the preliminary design to life, finetune cost estimating, and help engage and work with local and regional construction professionals and suppliers.
Contemporary form and integrated functionality will improve efficiencies, increase effectiveness, and expand options, allowing the YMCA to serve its members and the community better. The new YMCA is being conceived and designed to provide programs and services to benefit all residents of Duneland communities. The YMCA Healthy Living Campus, the new YMCA, and the partners it will house will provide opportunities, options, and impact to a broad cross-section of area children, adults, families, and seniors.
“Everyone at the Y believes that in a diverse world, we are stronger when we are inclusive, and our doors are open to all,” said Elizabeth Adcock, Chair of the Duneland YMCA Board of Directors. “The Duneland Y is here for everyone and, with a new facility and like-minded partners, located in a new community park, the volume of whom we serve and the variety of how we serve them are going to increase significantly.”
To learn more about the Duneland YMCA and the YMCA Healthy Living Campus project, visit YHLCduneland.org.
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women, and children – regardless of age, income, or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has long-standing relationships and a physical presence not just to promise but to deliver lasting personal and social change. www.dunelandymca.org