Community Center Steering Committee and ISD 166 meet
The Cook County Community Center Steering Committee met with
Chris Francis, CEO of the Duluth Area YMCA, on February 29. The
steering committee has been investigating the possibility of the YMCA
operating a community center facility built and owned by the county.
YMCAs are 501(c)(3)s independently owned and operated in each
community. There are almost 1,000 YMCAs operating at about 3,000
different branches. The Duluth Y is one of the 300 biggest, with
about 7,500 members and annual revenue of about $5½ million.
The cost of membership in a YMCA is lower than the cost of operating,
Francis said. Because of this, fundraising is ongoing to help pay for
programming and to help fund those in need. Members often get a
discounted fee at Ys other than the one they belong to, and nonmembers
can pay a daily rate to use YMCA facilities such as pools.
An endowment of about a million dollars would be needed to get started
and a foundation would need to be established, Francis said., adding,
“There’s just all kinds of potential opportunities we could look at.”
Not many new YMCAs are created nowadays. Most new facilities are
branches attached to already established Ys, and this is what the
Duluth Area Y would expect if it became involved in building a program
in Cook County. Local YMCAs pay dues to be part of the national
The county plans to spend up to $9 million on a community center with
outdoor recreational amenities near it, and that amount seemed doable
to Francis. “For $12 million,” he said, “I could put up a facility in
Duluth that would serve 10,000 people.”
The steering committee will meet with the ISD 166 school board from
8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 14 at the Jane Mianowski Conference Center to discuss the possibility of attaching a community center facility to the existing school building.