Looking for Plan B | nnbw.com

Looking for Plan B

John Seelmeyer

After a possible deal with Saint Mary’s fell through, YMCA of the Sierras is looking for about an acre of land for its youth and family facilities.

The organization hopes to find a location somewhere in downtown Reno, said Mark Lieske, president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit.

“We want to remain downtown. We’d like to remain on a public transit route,” Lieske said last week.

The YMCA, he said, is searching for a location where it can develop approximately 25,000 to 30,000 square feet of building space to house its offices, its Wiegand Youth Center program for pre-school aged children and its Link Piazzo Youth Center program for elementary-aged students.

The new facility also is projected to include a family swimming pool with space for swimming lessons for youngsters and aquatic exercise for seniors as well as playgrounds.

The YMCA is selling its current Reno facility at 1200 Foster Drive across the street from Reno High School because it’s unable to finance necessary repairs and ongoing maintenance.

When the YMCA called a press conference in late February to announce its planned move, Lieske said the organization believed it would be able to strike a deal with Saint Mary’s for land the hospital owns at Fifth and Washington in downtown Reno.

Those talks, however, didn’t come to fruition.

Said Saint Mary’s spokeswoman Katie J. Nannini, “We were in discussion with the YMCA and because we were unable to come to an agreement that met both of our strategic planning needs, those discussions are now on hold.”

Lieske said the YMCA ideally would like to structure a lease with an option to buy a location for its youth centers and offices, but he said the organization’s board is keeping an open mind about other alternatives as well.

The youth programs, he said, draw about 100 pre-kindergarten students and about 150 school-aged youngsters a day. During the summer, school-aged attendance at YMCA programs spikes to about 350 a day.

West Haven Development Group, which plans to buy the current YMCA property on Foster Drive, said it can be patient while the group searches for a site for its program.

“We realize that the YMCA is an important part of the local community and don’t want to see anyone that participates in the YMCA’s programs get displaced,” said Lou Borrego, president the Reno-based company.

“We understand that the management team for the YMCA is working hard to secure a new location. It is going to take some time to get the new facilities open and we are willing to work with them on that before we move forward with our plans,” Borrego added.

The YMCA fitness facilities, meanwhile, will move into 11,000 square feet at 50 West Liberty, taking the ground floor of the office building at Sierra and Liberty.