Rep. LaHood visits Morris to advocate on behalf of YMCA

The Morris Community YMCA’s Capital Campaign celebrated a significant milestone earlier this month when the City of Morris’s Development Review Committee approved the site and facility plan for the new Morris Hospital YMCA.

MORRIS – The Morris YMCA could be the recipient of an over $3 million federal grant to help build a new facility, if its Community Funding request is approved.

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, toured the Morris YMCA on Thursday and discussed the Morris YMCA’s community funding request. He called the center “essential” to the community and said he was “honored” to represent all of Morris and Grundy county as a part of his new congressional district.

“Part of my job as I advocate for this area is listening to the leaders in the community, and everybody from the mayor to the county board, to the civic leaders, are supportive of this project,” he said.

The Morris YMCA has been raising funds over the past several years to construct a new facility, that will be called the Morris Hospital YMCA. The YMCA announced the plans in 2018 to develop the projected $18 million facility. In May 2022, the YMCA announced it selected DesignGroup as the architect for the facility.

With the help of the community, the YMCA has been able to raise more than $16 million and is asking for approximately $3 million, so it can complete the project without any debt.

Missey Durkin, the chief operating officer for the Morris YMCA, said they submitted their application for the fiscal 2024 Community Project Funding Thursday afternoon and were grateful to be considered for the opportunity to provide more resources to Grundy County.

Missey Durkin, the Chief Operating Officer for the YMCA,  discusses the plans for the new building with Rep. Darin LaHood during his visit to Morris on Thursday.

“This whole campaign in the foundation is really a reflection of understanding our roots and wanting to be able to provide programming to these families and we know that they already come to the central hub here, the county seat. We have always said it will have a Morris address, but it is going to be a Grundy county asset,” she said.

At the end of LaHood’s visit, he sat down with members of the YMCA board to discuss the 50,000-square-foot facility. It will consist of a kids’ youth center, two community rooms, a pool, and an indoor walking track, among other amenities.

LaHood’s congressional district, after redistricting based off decennial census data, now encompasses all of Grundy, portions of La Salle, Kendall, and McHenry counties.

Guy Christianson, of the Y, said that another unique aspect of the facility will be its close proximity to Morris Grade School and West Side Park, which would allow parents to drop their children there in the morning and then walk to school.

LaHood said part of what the federal government looks for with Community Funding projects is a community partnership.

“When you look at the criteria we have put in place – I mean the federal government is willing to come in and put an investment down, but it has to be in partnership with a lot of other people, right, and so being able to sell, assist, and help grow the community, bring more people here, sustainability of the community. I mean you meet all of those criteria,” he said.

The Morris Development Review Committee approved plans for the facility at a meeting on Jan. 12. Construction should begin in the next few months, with the hope that it could be ready in early 2025.

“What’s incredible about this project is that it really has been a community wide effort,” Morris Public Information Officer Stan Knudson said.