News Column

Waterloo YWCA gives aging building a cortisone shot

August 20, 2014

By Pat Kinney, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa

Aug. 20--WATERLOO -- The Black Hawk County YWCA is giving its headquarters a 90th birthday present.

Construction began July 28 on a $2.8 million restoration of the historic building at 425 Lafayette St.

"In the first phase we are putting in new heating and air conditioning and ventilation in the gym and pool area, and new lighting," YWCA executive director Cindy Mohr said.

The second phase will expand those improvements throughout the building and install a new roof. A sprinkler system also will be installed.

It's hoped work can be done by winter, Mohr said. The goal is to stabilize the building, on Lafayette at East Park Avenue, and make it more comfortable. Many parts of the building are exceedingly hot or cold depending on the time of the year, and stains on the walls are evidence of the porous roof.

The work gives the structurally sound building a "new backbone" as far as its mechanical systems are concerned, said Paul Prescott, project superintendent with The Samuels Group, construction manager.

Several subcontractors are working on the project, including a substantial amount of union labor. Mohr said Waterloo schools allowed the YWCA to move day care services to Lowell and Highland elementary schools this summer and let the agency use the East High School pool in July.

The YWCA building was constructed in 1924 as a permanent home for the agency, founded in 1911. The building was designed by renowned architect Mortimer Cleveland, an Osage native who designed many public buildings in Northeast Iowa in the first half of the 20th century, including East and West high schools.

The improvements will save operating costs for building maintenance, Mohr said, savings that can be reinvested in staff and programming.

Among other programs, the YWCA offers day care, developmental programs for girls and young women, parenting programs, English for Spanish-speaking adults and families and an array of health and wellness programs. It has a full-time staff of 16 people and 100 part time.

The work is the result of a capital campaign begun three years ago, Mohr said. Of the $2.8 million, $1.2 came from a matching grant from the Black Hawk County Gaming Association.

The organization raised the other $1.5 million from a variety of sources, including the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa and the Guernsey Foundation, more than $550,000 from nearly 30 businesses and $737,000 from individuals and families. The work also includes a new security system.

Improvements should significantly reduce the building's utility costs, Mohr said, allowing the organization to devote more resources to programs serving the public.

The project is part of an overall $6.1 million building restoration and expansion project. Future phases would included expanding programming space and -- potentially -- swimming pool improvements.

For more information, call Mohr or YWCA maketing and development director Tonya Reicher at 234-7589.


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Source: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (IA)

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