YMCA officials share campus facility updates with Fairmount Neighborhood Association


Courtesy of Greater Wichita YMCA

Officials from the Greater Wichita YMCA met with about a dozen members of the Fairmount Neighborhood Association Thursday evening to give updates on the new YMCA facility coming to campus early 2020.

“We want to make sure all our neighborhoods around WSU know what’s coming to the WSU campus with the Greater Wichita YMCA,” said Mim McKenzie, chief operating officer for the Greater Wichita YMCA.

The Steve Clark YMCA is currently under construction at the corner of Mike Oatman Drive and Mid Campus Drive by The Flats.

In addition to the new YMCA, the facility will hold WSU Student Health Services, which is currently located in Ahlberg Hall. SHS will relocate to a newly built WSU Student Wellness Center inside the facility. Student Counseling services will be relocated from Grace Wilkie Hall to the new wellness center, and the facility will also house a drop-in daycare center.

The YMCA is also partnering with Wesley Healthcare to build a new urgent care center that is open to the public.

For a second year, WSU students paid a tiered Health and Wellness Fee, which will fund the operation of the YMCA and wellness center. However, no tuition, fees, or tax money are going towards the urgent care center.

The urgent care center will have a 4,000-square-foot interior. The wellness center will be 14,000 square feet on the east side of the facility and be split between a first and second floor, officials said.

The interior space of the new YMCA will be 55,000 square feet. The lobby will be set up similarly to their downtown facility, where visitors can enter on one side of the building and go out the other side. The lobby will be a community area for people to congregate, McKenzie said.

The Y’s second floor will have a track.

“It’s not quite our largest track,” McKenzie said. “Seven times around makes a mile. Our largest track is downtown — six times around makes a mile. But it’s pretty large.”

The second floor will also hold all the exercise machinery and weights.

The west side of the building will have outdoor classroom space on the ground floor.

People will be able to use the space freely. McKenzie said they don’t have anything like it at their other facilities. It was requested by the university for external physical activity and engagement.

Members of the neighborhood association wanted to make sure that Fairmount residents would be allowed to use the campus Y.

“As a Greater Wichita YMCA member, you can go to any of the YMCA facilities,” McKenzie told association members.

WSU’s Heskett Center already has a 25-meter, eight-lane swimming pool and separate diving well. The new facility won’t have a place to swim.

“We are not building a pool because there is already one in Heskett, so we felt like we don’t want to duplicate the effort since there’s already one there,” McKenzie said.

Members of the neighborhood association voiced their concern about this, asking whether or not YMCA members would be welcome at the Heskett pool.

“We’re talking to WSU about that,” McKenzie said. “We want to make sure that people can use all of the recreational facilities, but we haven’t figured out how that’s going to work.”

Fairmount Park has a splash pad for children, but no pool

Another topic of discussion was YMCA outreach.

“We want to make sure that this is not just looked at as a fitness facility,” McKenzie said. “We want to make sure we’re doing a lot of outreach as well — bringing students from the Fairmount area to campus for recreation. We’re going to run some summer camps and make sure that they feel like they’re part of the YMCA.

“All memberships are income-based, so families can come in. There’s youth memberships, adult memberships, and family memberships as well. Fairmount kids are welcome,” she said.

The neighborhood association was supportive of the outreach, as adding more summer and after-school programs for neighborhood kids is a perennial topic of discussion within Fairmount.

“We know that a fitness facility can be intimidating,” McKenzie said. “We want you to know everyone is welcome at the Y.”