West Ada partners up for YMCA, school campus

West Ada School District officials announced Thursday they are partnering with the local YMCA, the city and the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation to build a multimillion-dollar campus in Meridian.

Linda Clark Nov 20
West Ada Superintendent Linda Clark speaks at Thursday’s announcement of the multimillion-dollar education campus.

The project will be built on about 22 acres of donated land situated near the intersection of Amity and Eagle roads. Plans call for building a new YMCA campus, an approximately 90,000-square-foot aquatic center, city park and a new elementary school serving the West Ada School District – the state’s largest in terms of enrollment.

Landowners Marti Hill, Dixie Cook and David Turnbull donated land for the development, with the Albertson Foundation donating $4 million towards the campus, President Jamie MacMillan said.

West Ada Superintendent Linda Clark said the partnership will allow the district to address growth while saving money.

A new elementary school was included in the district’s $104 million bond issue that narrowly failed in August. Clark said the site of the development had already been identified as the same site where the new elementary school would be located.

Using donated land and sharing facilities, such as a YMCA gymnasium, will reduce the amount taxpayers will be asked to contribute.

“It’s almost immeasurable,” Clark said of the support within the partnership. “Being able to share facilities and provide expanded services will be incredible.”

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West Ada’s bond committee plans to recommend the district run the bond issue again in March, with the partnership for the new elementary factored in.

“We hoped to have it open in the fall of 2016,” Clark said. “Schools on the south side of the district are overcapacity. By the time it can be built… they will be even more overcrowded.”

YMCA Kids
More than a dozen children from the YMCA attended the announcement, which calls for a new elementary school and South YMCA campus.

There is no cost or construction timeline identified yet for the entire campus, but Treasure Valley YMCA CEO Jim Everett said the Albertson Foundation and the landowners expect it to be open by 2019. The YMCA components of the campus could cost $20 million, according to a news release issued at Thursday’s announcement.

“We’re going to have to go out and work hard on the fundraising side,” Everett said, adding that planning meetings will continue next week. “At the end of the day, this has got to be the community’s facility.”

“If we hit it out of the park with fundraising, we could be in the ground this summer, and it’s about an 18-month construction period,” he continued.

Cook and Hill, who donated the land with Turnbull, originally envisioned donating portions of their family farm for a new city park. Talks accelerated last year and earlier this year after Turnbull, school district officials and Albertson Foundation leaders expressed interest and shared their collective visions.

The land had been in the family since Hill’s grandfather arrived to homestead the acerage in 1891.

“What Dixe and Marti did to set this in motion is, I think, a transformative project,” MacMillan said. “It will be a wonderful place to play, to learn and grow.”

Disclosure: Idaho Education News is funded through a grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.