Frequently Asked Questions
Do people in Fairmont want a community center?
- Project 1590 first met in 2015. Within four months, residents from all demographics submitted over 1600 ideas focusing on what they would like to see developed in our community. An intern from the urban studies program at Minnesota State University in Mankato was hired to narrow these ideas down to the top 80. A follow up survey narrowed this down to 30 ideas. An additional round of voting brought it down to 10 main ideas. The top survey result was a community center. Click to view survey results.
- Because of the Project 1590 results, volunteers organized a campaign to get a local option sales tax passed to help fund the project. The local option sales tax of 0.5% for 25 years or until $15,000,000 is reached for the purpose of funding recreational amenities, trails, and/or a Fairmont Community Center was voted yes by general election in November 2016. It passed by 61% and had the majority in every ward in Fairmont. Click to view vote results.
- In May 2021, the City of Fairmont held a Parks and Recreation survey. Over 800 citizens were surveyed. Top 10 results were: Indoor Aquatic Park, Trails, Gomsrud Park, Indoor Lap Pool, Field House, New Ice Rink, Youth Programming Space, Event Center, Indoor Track, and Second Sheet of Ice. All but 2 of these options could be incorporated into a community center. Click to view survey results.
- In March 2022, the City of Fairmont held a Community Center design survey to assist the design team in what amenities the community wanted in the new facility. It also wanted to gage where the community was at post-COVID. The survey reiterated the 39% would not use, 61% would use split that was first seen in the 2016 vote. Click to view survey results.
Will this increase my property taxes?
- The $14 million tax monies identified for the Community Center is generated from a 0.5% local option sales tax, NOT property taxes.
- Nothing has been passed and there are no plans that would include property taxes as a funding source. City of Fairmont contributions include sales tax generated funds only.
This project costs so much, won’t my property taxes HAVE to go up?
There are many ways to finance a community center without having to increase property taxes. We can:
- Scale back what components get built.
- Pursue building this project in a phased approach over time, as monies are raised.
- Solicit more private funds.
- Explore grant dollars or alternative funding sources.
Can we spend the money on roads, lakes, or infrastructure instead? Or even give it back to the tax-payers?
State of MN requires only spending the local option sales tax on Community Center, trails and/or recreational amenities.
- The money cannot be returned. The community has to spend it on a community center, trails and/or recreational amenities, or it loses those funds.
Are you sure we can afford a community center? I’ve heard with post-covid prices it will cost closer to $60 million.
Actual costs are not yet determined for the facility. Once they are solidified, the city and the community can find the balance between what we want and what we can afford.
- Since this project is still in the developmental stages, final, actual building components, costs and program offerings are still being put together. There are no numbers yet.
- ALL of the groups involved with this project want a feasible, sustainable building with responsible, realistic building cost and operating budget.
Won’t the community center just be a financial drain on the community?
A Community Center is more than a building. A Community Center builds community. They provide year-round programming for our youth, adults and families; they offer before and after school programs; programs for healthy living and mental wellness; they work with our schools to offer in-school activities and complementary curriculums; community centers offer access to meals and food for the hungry; they make cities more attractive for businesses and for families; they provide jobs and financial donations for the area and much more. A Community Center has something for everyone if you look for it.
What are the benefits of the new facility?
- A strong recruitment and retention tool for young families.
- Boost local economy through hosting recreational tournaments which generates visitors likely to spend money in our town during their visit.
- Instill inclusivity by being accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds.
- Provide a place for children to be active, safe, healthy and involved in through programming, camps, childcare, and recreational activities.
- Promote healthy aging for older adults by giving them a place to come together for fellowship and activity.
Why don’t we know how much a community center will cost?
The City and Advisory Board are actively working with Tegra, the Owner’s Representative, to gather input and information to solidify the actual facility design and cost.
Next steps include:
- Hiring Architect to finalize the building design.
- Formalizing potential building components (e.g. aquatics, field house, ice, etc.).
- Working with the Y to leverage their knowledge and expertise in community center components and design considerations.
- Gaining community input on building use.
Once an architect is hired we can start getting conceptual design options put together. That will give a better idea of actual cost.
Do we know what this will cost to operate?
The Community Center Foundation is currently working in conjunction with the Y to develop financial proformas to run and operate a full spectrum of potential building components and supporting programming.
Does the City of Fairmont know how to operate a community center?
The City will not operate the community center and has made a resolution for the Y to operate it. The Y is currently under a consultancy contract to explore financial viability, programming opportunities and an operating agreement.
What part does the city play in the new facility?
The city plans to enter into an operating agreement for the operation and maintenance of the facility. The city does not plan to operate the facility on their own. The vision is that the YMCA and Fairmont Youth Hockey Association will operate within the Community Center.
We’re reading about multiple YMCA’s closing. Why is Fairmont different?
Each YMCA and community has their own unique challenges. Some YMCA’s currently have challenging building situations. Additionally, financial proformas are being developed to assess how the Fairmont Area Community Center can be successful.
“It all boils down to the operational agreement. We have to be very careful with how we set that up. So having the people on the FACC group work with us (YMCA) and put together an operational agreement that cements the Y in the future of Fairmont, that’s what we would be all about. We have to be careful with that operational agreement. The ones that I’m aware of (that have closed), would be people that made decisions and the operational agreement was not suitable for long-term stays of those Y’s in those communities.” -Bruce Mielke, CEO of the Albert Lea and Forest City YMCAs
The community center is just another health club. Aren’t there enough of those in Fairmont?
The benefits of having the Y operate the Community Center is that it becomes much more than just a gym or place to work out. It provides a broad array of health, mental and social wellness programming for youth, families, adults, and the elderly. Y’s also work collectively with area businesses and organizations to supplement what the area provides the community, with a goal to maximize and broaden the health and well-being opportunities for the greater community. The goal of the Y is to fill those holes in the community and expand opportunities that are offered. There’s room in Fairmont for the Y and the current facilities.
How will the community center impact existing businesses?
The community center will aid in generating additional visitors to our area and will be a boost to our local economy. It is also a community amenity that will serve as a recruitment/retention tool. There will be opportunities for the facility and the ice arena to support/partner local businesses and community based organizations.
How much money needs to be raised to build the facility? Where will the project funding come from?
$14 million is committed from the City of Fairmont. An additional $4.5 million has been pledged from our anchor donors. Additional pledges have also started coming in. We’ll know exact number of additional funds that need to be raised once we get final design options put together with cost.
What happens to the current hockey arena and aquatic park?
The city co-owns the Martin County Arena with the Martin County Fair Board. The future use of that facility will be discussed in conjunction with the Fair Board. The city does not plan to change operations of the Fairmont Aquatic Park at this time.
How will the ice arena and YMCA co-exist in the Community Center?
The Fairmont Area Community Center is visioned to be one building in which both a YMCA and an ice arena are located, but have separate individual operations.
When will construction start?
The City has outlined a tentative timeline that includes construction planning and design in 2022 and starting construction in 2023. The Advisory Board is starting the design process which will include a more detailed timeline and plan for the construction.
How was the location determined?
The proposed site is centrally located within the community and is close to many other community amenities and resources. Additionally, the land is to be donated by Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont, and has basic infrastructure already present which saves on project costs.
Why was a Foundation created?
The Foundation is overseeing the private fundraising campaign and managing those donations/pledges from private individuals and entities. The Foundation also envisions being engaged in the oversight of operations of the facility.
How long will the YMCA be in Fairmont?
“We want to make sure it’s a perfect fit. If the YMCA comes in, the intent is it’s here to stay. The YUSA and the YMCA have been looking at this and they’re feeling very positive about the research and the work that they’ve done. Ultimately, we need to have that planning session to ensure we’re all on the same page as we move forward, making it very feasible to operate that facility.” -Dennis Dieser, Retired CEO of the Albert Lea YMCA
The YMCA is program focused - Serving all in the community.The YMCA is program focused. It's not about the structure. What comes first is 'what does the community need' and they are going to be here (in Fairmont) talking about that programming and focusing on that...
*Conceptual rendering from 2016. Not final design.As we continue to move down our timeline, we're getting closer to the Community Center being a reality in Fairmont. Survey results are in and results were consistent with surveys done in the past, as well as the local...
YMCA Signs Consulting Agreement with Fairmont Area Community Foundation. On March 15th, the YMCA entered into a consulting agreement with the Fairmont Area Community Center Foundation. The agreement was signed by the Albert Lea YMCA Board as part of an ongoing...