GCC pool revival discussed


March 29, 2019

Bryan Hellios/Daily Globe

RYAN ZIETLOW, CEO of Northwoods YMCA, left, inspects the college's heating and humidity equipment above the pool area with Erik Guenard, dean of business services/co-interim president at GCC.



Ironwood - Roughly 50 members of the community attended the Gogebic Community College Board of Trustees meeting Thursday to hear about partnership opportunities with the Young Men's Christian Association, including the possibility of bringing back GCC's pool.

Ryan Zietlow, CEO of the Northwoods YMCA, said community support is vital to the sustainability of his organization.

"We currently have 4,000 members (in Rhinelander, Wis.) which consists of about 2,000 individual units," Zietlow said. A unit could include a couple or a family with children.

With about 13,400 people in a 12-minute radius from the Rhinelander YMCA versus roughly 10,500 in a 12-minute radius from the center of Ironwood, he said the populations are similar.

Despite these similarities, Zietlow said the number of potential memberships in an area have to be explored before the YMCA would move into an area. He said such a feasibility studies typically cost between $15,000 and $25,000.

It's still early in the process, he said, and a feasibility study and other data need to be gathered before any decision could be made.

Zietlow proposed the possibility of the college donating the use of the facility to the YMCA if the effort moved forward.

The board raised several questions about the financial stability of the YMCA and voiced concern about money being raised in the community being used by other YMCAs in other areas.

At the Rhinelander YMCA, a family monthly membership costs $63.50 and a single adult plan is $43.50, which does not include program costs, Zietlow said.

John Lupino, chair of GCC board, asked Zietlow how much the partnership would cost the college.

Zietlow said if the college covered the cost of operational expenses, minus staff expenses, it would come to about $14 per square foot per year.

"It really depends on energy efficiency and so many variables," he said. "$14 is a ballpark number."

The YMCA offers many programs, including pre-kindergarten classes, parent-child classes in swimming and dance, youth sports, and before and after school childcare, Zietlow said, adding YMCA is one of the nation's leading provider of swim lessons.

Cecilia Aho, psychical education teacher at Ironwood, said having a YMCA in the area would give area youth a chance to learn how to swim.

"Drowning is actually a large contributor to youth deaths," she said.

Aho also brought up the topic of kids in the area not having a place to go and getting in trouble.

"I would like to see a wellness center for the whole community," she said. "I think it's really needed."


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