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Expansions planned for south YMCA complex

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Sep. 7, 2012, at 6:41 a.m.
  • Updated Friday, Sep. 7, 2012, at 8:52 a.m.

With $5 million in renovations at the Richard A. DeVore South YMCA nearly completed, YMCA officials said Thursday they have plans for even more expansion there.

The DeVore South YMCA, Farha Sport Center and the Garvey Outdoor Sport Complex are all located at 3405 S. Meridian. The entire complex sits on 65 acres of land donated by the Willard Garvey family in the late 1990s.

The DeVore South YMCA originally opened in 1999. The land donation allowed room for the YMCA’s first dedicated sport center in the Wichita area, the Farha Sport Center, which opened five years ago.

But until now, only half of the property has been utilized.

“When the Garveys gifted us those 65 acres, I never thought we would utilize the entire site – that’s an awful lot of property,” said Dennis Schoenebeck, head of the Greater Wichita YMCA.

The new expansion plans call for utilizing the entire acreage by building six new turf fields, an indoor soccer complex, outdoor concessions and restrooms, a walking/bike path and expanded parking. There also are tentative plans to use some of the land to build a community health clinic.

Some of the work – $2 million worth – will be completed by as soon as spring of next year. An additional $8 million project will be completed at a later time.

Schoenebeck said the expansion will help the YMCA’s goal of serving 75 percent of the youth in the community.

“When we first built the Y at that location, it was a little scary,” Schoenebeck said. “Within five miles of that area, 40 percent of the people had a household income of under $25,000. We couldn’t help but wonder if it would be used.”

But the DeVore South YMCA has been so popular that it already has undergone two renovations in its 13-year history and has been an economic boost to that area of Wichita, with new development on surrounding properties.

On Thursday, community leaders and YMCA officials dedicated several new additions to the South YMCA complex:

•  Eight new hardwood basketball courts and a 50,000-square-foot expansion at the Farha Sport Center, nearly doubling its size.

•  A 5,000-square-foot expansion for wellness, improved acoustics in the pool area and other cosmetic upgrades at the DeVore South YMCA.

•  A new turf field for tackle and flag football and soccer at the Wendy’s Field at the Garvey Outdoor Sport Complex.

“I am excited because it is a one-of-a-kind facility in an area that can really benefit from it,” Schoenebeck said. “It’s first-class for youth sports.

“It is so unusual for a community this size to find a resource like this. People who come from out of town for tournaments are very impressed Wichita has a resource like this. It is great for thousands of kids.”

The first phase of the future expansion – expected to be completed by spring 2013 – will include building two turf fields for soccer and football, concessions areas and restrooms and an expanded walking/bike path.

A later expansion will include four additional turf fields, an indoor soccer complex and space reserved for a possible Grace Med Health Clinic.

Dave Sanford, Grace Med CEO, confirmed those plans later Thursday.

“We have a vision to build on that land,” he said. “Without federal funds, we are going to have to rely on privately raised funds in the community.

“Conversations are taking place. We hope to launch a capital campaign in 2013 to raise $8 million to build a clinic there.”

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com.

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