OSKALOOSA — Local leaders met May 11 to break ground on the new Early Childhood Education and Recreation Center.

Civic leaders and project partners decided to share the groundbreaking in a video in lieu of a traditional groundbreaking open to the public, donors, stakeholders and media due to COVID-19 restrictions and respecting social distancing.

Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt, Oskaloosa Community School District Board President Shelly Herr and Mahaska County YMCA CEO Matt Larson shared remarks and took part in the ceremony. Krutzfeldt represents the City of Oskaloosa and will own the facility; Herr represents the school district and made investments toward construction; and Larson represents the YMCA, will operate the facility and will facilitate private fundraising.

“This groundbreaking takes place at a unique time,” said Krutzfeldt. “The need has never been greater for optimistic and courageous leadership to encourage people outside of their homes and give them a great place to go. Our community has been blessed with a series of cooperative projects that have created great things over the years. I believe the new (Y) Center will send a strong message to visitors and community members of what our standards are. In the history of cities, there are a number of watershed moments – times where people of vision assume their responsibility for leadership and make commitments. And those decisions impact the culture and amenities for many years to come.”

Construction on the 88,000+ square foot facility has begun, and the project is on schedule to open in September 2021. The current facility was constructed in 1969, and the YMCA runs licensed childcare and early childhood education at two additional remote facilitates. The new Recreation and Early Childhood Education Center will bring all programming under one roof to provide high-quality space for learning, gathering and becoming stronger as a community, well into the future.

“The school is investing in the (Y) Center because we know how important early childhood education and care are,” said Herr. “The (Y) Center will provide an environment that meets the highest childcare and preschool standards for early education, will prepare our youngest citizens for life-long learning, and will ultimately improve the quality of our future graduates.”

The YMCA is conducting a private fundraising campaign to help ensure the facility design meets the needs of the community going forward. The total cost of the project, including an endowment, is $33.6 million. The partners have raised $29.6 million to date. Another $2 million is waiting to be confirmed, and $2 million is still needed from the community. Most of the funds that still need to be raised will go to a YMCA $2 million endowment that will be created to maintain the building.

The YMCA needs the community’s support to make sure it has the amenities and an endowment to ensure its ability to serve for generations to come. At the groundbreaking, Larson thanked the city, school, businesses and individuals for their contributions to date and outlined an opportunity for donors who wish to contribute to the capital campaign.

“We still need our community’s support to finish. For every dollar donated to the campaign, the George Daily Family Trust will match the contribution with two dollars from the fund,” said Larson.

More information on how to donate can be found on the YMCA website: http://www.mahaskaymca.org/ournewy/. The groundbreaking video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=023fvnDemwk.

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