Lino Lakes leaders are planning to spend $24,000 to figure out how the city can reopen a YMCA facility that closed earlier this year due to COVID-19.
YMCA of the North notified Lino Lakes in July that it would not reopen its facility there — a decision that didn’t sit well with members, particularly seniors, who relied on the Y for daily activities and socializing, according to the city.
City leaders have now taken matters into their own hands, hiring Michigan-based Isaac Sports Group to complete a study by March 21 that will look at the feasibility of the city operating the facility or contracting with other vendors. In the meantime, the city is working with the Y and other partners on a “reimagining” committee to determine the future of the facility at 7690 Village Dr.
“Every health club is feeling the impacts of COVID. All are closed again now,” said Michael Grochala, Lino Lakes’ community development director. “If the Y is not going to reopen, we certainly want to evaluate every option we have to open the doors back up.”
Fitness centers were among the pandemic-related closures that Gov. Tim Walz ordered in March, and they have closed again amid a COVID spike.
The Lino Lakes Y opened in 2007, and the city originally put $2.4 million toward construction and donated 6.7 acres of land. The Y owns the land and retains operations and costs. Under the original development agreement, Grochala said, Lino Lakes has the right to take possession of the property.
The Y, which has 30 locations in the metro and one in Hudson, Wis., has encouraged former Lino Lakes members to utilize facilities in Forest Lake, Shoreview and Coon Rapids. Grochala said the Forest Lake location, which opened in 2015, pulled some members away from Lino Lakes.
“Membership has declined certainly as a result of COVID, but the decline started prior to COVID hitting and that may be a result of competition,” Grochala said.
The YMCA of the North declined requests for Lino Lakes membership numbers and operational costs. The organization also closed locations in downtown St. Paul and Prior Lake this summer, but may repurpose them as “community hubs.”
“The challenges of 2020 have reinforced the commitment of the Y to our mission, to the people we serve and to the future,” YMCA of the North President and CEO Glen Gunderson said in a statement. “The Y is working … with community leaders, including the City of Lino Lakes, to determine the best path forward.”