Fairmont debates future of community center

The Fairmont city council is deciding the future of the town’s community center and whether to build a new YMCA.
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 9:51 AM CST
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FAIRMONT, Minn. (KEYC) - The Fairmont city council is deciding the future of the town’s community center and whether to build a new YMCA.

On Monday, council members decided to move forward with the purchase of a new ice compressor estimated at $1.5 million which will be installed in the Martin County Arena.

The council also voted to seek additional funding from the state for remodeling its community center. The city has $14 million and is working to secure more funding, including from local sales tax.

Right now, city staff and a design team are moving into a planning phase and applying for this funding. '

Some city leaders say they’re focused on what a community center can offer.

“If anyone would be interested in starting some programming, whether it be the YMCA, whether it be Fairmont CER, that there is space available at our current ... building,” said Fairmont Mayor Debbie Foster. “Some people know it as Central School; that they there is space available there and [we] encourage [them] to begin some programming -- that would that would be a huge asset to our community.”

Some members of the city council and the Fairmont Area Community Center Foundation say this move is a mistake, preferring a new YMCA over rehabbing an existing building that had been a school.

“It’s really disheartening because Fairmont has seen, you know, steady or declining population,” said Fairmont city council member, Randy Lubenow. “We have a lot of older people in town because young families just aren’t moving to town. Mayo Clinic got involved because they can’t recruit doctors to come to Fairmont because there’s nothing for them.”

The Fairmont Area Community Center Foundation says not moving forward with a new YMCA leaves pledged money on the table.

“This decision showed Council had no intention of allowing them to finish the job the city entered into an agreement with them to do,” said the Fairmont Area Community Center Foundation.