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Morris YMCA will move into old city hall

Published: Monday, Aug. 4, 2014 9:12 p.m. CDT
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(Christina Chapman-Van Yperen -- cchapman@shawmedia.com)
Morris City Clerk Carol Adair, Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick and City Attorney Scott Belt examine and sign off on city documents during the regular Morris City Council meeting Monday night.

MORRIS – The former Morris city hall and police department on Wauponsee Street will be the new home of the local YMCA – at least temporarily.

The Morris City Council Monday approved the Finance and Administration Committee’s recommendation to lease the former city hall at 320 Wauponsee St.. The council approved the lease agreement, 6-0, with Aldermen Randy Larson and Don Hansen absent.

The Morris Community YMCA is part of the Greater Joliet Area YMCA and holds programs in Morris such as summer camps and an adult soccer league. It is working to expand its presence and eventually build its own YMCA building in Morris. The organization recently hired Operations Director Missy Durkin for the Morris area.

The organization plans to move into its temporary location in the first quarter of 2015, Durkin said after the council meeting, and is looking forward to offering a variety of programs out of the space.

The local YMCA’s advisory committee will be meeting today to discuss the specific programs that will be held there.

The new space is ideal, because of its proximity to the downtown and the people it attracts from all over the county, Durkin said.

“Obviously, downtown Morris is a central hub in our community,” she said.

In addition, it is fitting because it is accessible to both seniors and children for programs, city parking is available across the street and the building itself has “character,” Durkin added.

YMCA President and CEO Jim Watts was unable to attend the council meeting, but sent a statement with representatives thanking the city.

“Opening our temporary location in the former city hall building will allow us to have a daily presence in the Morris community while we work to further our mission by introducing new and impactful programs to serve the residents of Grundy County,” he said in the statement.

The three-year agreement between the YMCA and the city of Morris includes an option to extend the contract another two years.

During the initial three years, the YMCA will be looking for sponsors and collecting donations toward building a permanent facility here.

The YMCA will pay $500 a month in rent. In order to keep it funds going toward constructing a new facility one day, the city is offering the low rent keeping the “long-term benefit” for the city in mind, Mayor Richard Kopczick said at last week’s committee meeting.

The city moved out of the former city hall and police station in 2010. This past winter, Morris’s public works crews worked on the facility making it an ideal space for the YMCA. In addition, the building’s close location to Chapin Park and the I&M Canal make it a good location for kids in the YMCA programs.

Memory care center

coming to Morris

The city council also approved Monday a planned unit development, as well as, the required subdivision plat for a 60-unit memory care facility.

Horizon Healthcare plans to construct the facility on 3.2 acres of the property to the east of Park Pointe Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center and Park Pointe Senior Living complex on Edgewater Drive and Dupont Avenue – giving the whole area a campus feel.

The project was before the Morris Planning Commission last week and was recommended to the council, which approved it with a 7-0 vote. Because the project is a PUD, Mayor Kopczick also had to vote.

As the company researched the need for a memory center, Administrator Suzanne Day said last week officials learned there has been a need for memory care for a while and many have left the area because of the lack of local services.

The city has asked for a five-year time line for completion of the project. Horizon is hoping for an April start, with a 10- to 12-month construction completion.

“We appreciate what the planning commission did,” said Horizon’s attorney John Hanson to the council. “Everyone involved in the process has seen the merits of this.”

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