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YMCA, sports park at important crossroads

Randy West

The YMCA of Harrison County is entering a critical period. Construction is humming along on the new 44,000-square-foot facility off North Capitol Avenue in north Corydon. It will have everything from indoor swimming and warm water therapy pools to basketball courts and a walking track by the time it’s completed next summer.
But the YMCA still needs to raise $400,000 to pay for the building. That may not sound like much when you consider that the YMCA, led by its inspired and tireless executive director, Catherine Turcotte, has already raised $4.6 million since it was founded in the summer of 2001. It’s an incredible success story, but it’s a continuing success story, and you can help it along.
Unfortunately, the YMCA faces another huge challenge, one that was not anticipated during the era of good feeling when all of this started, when it seemed like the YMCA could accomplish whatever it wanted, as long as everyone worked together. In April 2002, the Keller Manufacturing Co. generously made its 44-acre property off North Capitol Avenue available for $1 a year. Talk about a gift. A soccer league had flourished there for years, plus softball sponsored by the Harrison County Ministerial Association. Amazingly, or miraculously, the 44-acre Keller property was right next to the 15-acre YMCA property, donated by Dennis and Kathy Jenkins.
It appeared that the giant recreational complex was about to blossom, on a beautiful stretch of land alongside Big Indian Creek that had not been used for much of anything except farming beforehand. It was to be a modern, recreational complex available to everyone in Harrison County, whether they could afford it or not because the Y guarantees memberships to anyone who’s interested.
It seemed almost too good to be true, and, alas, it was.
The YMCA took over the soccer league, and the Friends of Harrison County Youth started making plans to move its huge summer baseball and softball operation from Rice Island in Corydon to the Keller Sports Park. In the meantime, however, the economy went south and Keller began to struggle. In September, the beleaguered furniture manufacturer decided that it needed to sell its valuable property, not lease it for nothing. The land is being appraised. Now the YMCA and the Friends need to raise several thousands of dollars to buy the 44 acres and keep the project going.
This project has to succeed because it’s a win-win situation for everyone. It will be good for the entire community, for people of all ages, all economic status, all kinds of health situations. The sports park can be used morning, noon and night, all through the year, and it will have a positive impact on the economy here as well. The soccer, baseball and softball tournaments that will be held at the complex could potentially bring thousands of families to Harrison County, filling hotels, restaurants and shops.
The YMCA is the kind of institution that helps people stay healthy, and, perhaps more importantly, it brings people together in a friendly, positive atmosphere. Now that we’re so close to making this happen, we can’t let this opportunity slip away.
It’s time for everyone in Harrison County to step up and say, ‘Yes, I’d like to contribute to this great project. You can count on me.’ Give what you can. The YMCA’s address is P.O. Box 156, Corydon, IN 47112.