Nearly 100 community leaders gathered on Thursday morning to talk about the future of a new YMCA on the eastside of Mankato.

YMCA Resource Director for the State of Minnesota Mark Hennessy says they are still in the pre-planning stage.

“Before a lot of money is spent on additional studies and assessments, we wanna gather as much information and really define the community needs in a very thoughtful way. So that we’re building the right thing.”

The organization assembled a group of community leaders to give opinion, find needs and gather information to help make good decisions on a new facility. Hennessey adds that he’s very optimistic about a new YMCA in Mankato due to it being well positioned from a management, membership and financial standpoint.

“Almost all new YMCA facilities are now being built in partnership with other organizations. They’re just expensive to build, so it really is important that the Y does partner with other organizations if a facility is indeed going to be built. I think that that is almost universal now.”

Finding out what is important to the community was the main goal of the meeting, as Mankato YMCA Executive Director John Kind says they don’t want to build a building and then try to find what can go in it.

“What we have really heard very strongly is that we need a place for kids to gather and be safe. You know, especially kids in that age group from eight to seventeen. There isn’t a whole lot for those kids to do in town and to do it safely.”

Officials say it’s the right time for the YMCA to grow with 10-thousand members and a full parking lot that has the facility bursting at the seams.

“Just as an example, our swimming pool down at the YMCA, we have so many groups fighting for pool time. We have lap swimmers, we have the casual family swimmers, we have our swim team, we have swim lessons, we have water aerobics, and every single one of those groups wants more time. We can’t do that without taking time away from one of the other groups and all of those things are important. So how do we serve all those people? We have to look at expanding.”

In similar sized communities in Minnesota, Duluth is adding a new 20-million dollar facility in Hermantown and St. Cloud is in the process of replacing it’s old facility and looking at adding a second site.

YMCA Resource Director for the State of Minnesota Mark Hennessy (center) talks to the group of community leaders on Thursday.