A group of St. Croix Valley residents who want to see a community center built in the area will host a meeting Thursday night to air the results of a survey they commissioned this summer.

The survey drew responses from people who received one of 32,844 mailers sent earlier this year within the boundaries of the Stillwater school district. It asked what sort of things people would like to see in a community center, from swimming lessons to a gymnasium, a community gathering space to teen programs.

"We feel the time is right for the conversation to move to a new kind of level," said Bob Dickie, a board member of Valley Community Center Partners, the year-old nonprofit steering the conversation.

Their meeting is open to the public, and the group has invited local politicians, nonprofit leaders and others to stop by. Their hope, drawn from conversations with neighbors and friends, is that some of the local governments in Washington County — in particular Stillwater, Oak Park Heights, Bayport and Lake Elmo — will band together to build something like a YMCA.

This is only the latest push for such an amenity, said Dianne Polasik, the board chair of Valley Community Center Partners.

Polasik said she's been a part of three earlier efforts going back to the 1970s to build a community center in Stillwater or nearby, specifically one with a pool.

Polasik said she had all but given up on the idea in the St. Croix Valley when she found herself donating to an effort to build a community center in Bozeman, Mont., where her son used to live. "My daughter said 'What about Stillwater?' " said Polasik.

She and other like-minded locals did some focus groups before forming the nonprofit Valley Community Center Partners.

The group sent out mailers earlier this year to advertise the survey, which was conducted online. They eventually got 1,300 respondents. The survey was paid for by the Lee and Dorothy Whitson Fund at the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation.

"This is a grassroots effort," said Polasik. She said she's focused on swimming and swim lessons, but the community center could be a place with a wide range of offerings, from pickle ball to soccer, a walking track to an indoor playground.

"No place in Stillwater offers overall recreational and fitness programs where you can take a class," said Polasik.

The quickly growing neighborhoods of Lake Elmo make that city a potential location for a community center, said Dickie, but small communities can host them, too. He pointed to New Richmond, Wis., where the local government runs a successful community center. The city had just over 10,000 people in the 2020 census.

Dickie said the group wants to know what sort of things people would like to see in a community center, to see what the general interest is. "If the community indicates that they want to do this, I think everyone will go to the table and make this work," he said.

The group plans to hold their meeting from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Community Thread, 2300 Orleans St. W., Stillwater.