The rumors are flying: Guess where the new building for the Northfield Area Family YMCA will be?

Northfield Area Family YMCA
Last October, the Northfield School District declined to partner with the Northfield Area Family YMCA on a facility on school property. Since then, the Y has been searching for a location. Back in May, Y officials told the Northfield Area United Way that they had made their selection but that negotiations would take a while longer. 

I’m starting to hear rumors, so the announcement must be imminent.

Where do you think the site for the the Y will be?


  1. Anthony Pierre said:

    old nac site is the most obvious

    June 6, 2011
  2. Jim Haas said:

    A.P.: What does ‘nac’ stand for?

    June 6, 2011
  3. Arlen Malecha said:

    Longfellow School?

    June 6, 2011
  4. Griff Wigley said:

    Jim, NAC=Northfield Athletic Club, the building at Hwy 3 & Woodley.

    June 6, 2011
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    A few weeks ago, I told someone that I thought it would be the Gleason property since that site was no longer being considered for the Safety Center.

    June 6, 2011
  6. john george said:

    Maybe Rejoice! has a secret deal going with the YMCA to build on their property, and they move to more friendly territory.

    June 6, 2011
  7. There were rumors long ago of it being located on land at County Rd 1 and Division/246, but I’m glad I haven’t heard anything about that in ages. Gleason property would be similarly problematic. This is a facility largely for youth. Kids need to be able to walk and bike, safely and comfortably. (Well, adults do too, but kids literally have no other option, short of mom or dad chauffeuring.)

    So fingers crossed for a site close to town, or at least one that can be accessed safely. Longfellow School would be perfect. Even behind Target wouldn’t be so bad. At least it’s a residential area. The undeveloped site across from the high school on Division — south of the cemetery — would also be pretty good.

    June 7, 2011
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    Jane Fenton was right: The Y is slated to locate behind Target:

    Greetings YMCA supporters, volunteers and community members,

    On Monday June 27th, the YMCA took another important step forward in the process of building a YMCA in Northfield. We submitted an application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) with the City of Northfield for a 5-acre piece of property behind Target.

    Very recently we signed a purchase agreement to acquire land on Honey Locust Drive to build a 45,000 square foot facility. This property is currently owned by the Jasnoch family.


    * Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    * Massing Pictures

    * Property Location

    June 27, 2011
  9. Good to hear they’ve picked a site! This does not seem ideal, but it’s not bad either. I am deeply concerned, however, about the massing pictures. I realize this is not supposed to show a final design, but it suggests that the configuration they have in mind is a beautiful new facility, sitting behind a hot sea of black asphalt.

    (An appropriate level) of off-street parking is fine and good, but I sincerely hope the YMCA does not place it in front. Let’s consider other public-use buildings in largely residential areas: Longfellow School, Washington Elementary/City Hall, Northfield Library, First UCC, St. John’s Church. They ALL have parking to the side or behind (or not at all, at the library). At the other end, parking lots in front give the effect of the New Middle School, where it is a full quarter of a mile from the street to the front door. 5 minute walk! Besides the practical inconvenience, parking lots in front frame the street poorly, creating higher traffic speeds and more hostile pedestrian environments. Think about the difference of walking on Division Street, on the S-500 block (which has buildings adjoining the street) versus on the sidewalk in front of the Econo Foods lot. You see maybe a 1/4 as many people walking in the latter area.

    I certainly hope the YMCA does the right thing: accommodates cars to the extent necessary, but makes the building equally inviting to cyclists and walkers. This is a building largely for youth; it is especially necessary that it be placed in a way that makes it most appealing to nonmotorized users.

    June 29, 2011
  10. Jane McWilliams said:

    Sean, Is this something the Planning Commission could control?

    July 1, 2011
  11. Jane, good question. We should get Tracy Davis to comment. Since they need a CUP (and since this is being put in a neighborhood context), I would think the planning commission would have a reasonable level of input.

    I would note that, while the new Land Development Code specifies maximum number of off-street spaces for buildings like this, it does not specify configuration. When a similar issue came up with CVS Pharmacy, though, the council put its foot down on the parking lot (but council had more control, since the plan involved city land and redoing a planned-unit development [PUD]).

    In any case, I should hope the YMCA would not need to be forced to do such a sensible thing. For a commercial theater or a Target or similar, I’ve heard the argument that you need to show a well-populated parking lot to show that the business is healthy and attract more customers (I don’t agree with the argument, but it exists). For the Y, which builds on existing community involvement and longer-term members, there is just no benefit in showing off a parking lot as a primary aesthetic feature.

    July 3, 2011

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