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YMCA to vacate Baughn Street, concerning residents

The Council Bluffs YMCA is under fire by some residents for plans to build a park and parking lot.
Posted at 6:53 PM, Feb 05, 2021

Council Bluffs City Council voted to approve a proposal from the YMCA to vacate Baughn Street. The plan is making some people in the neighborhood angry.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Ia. (KMTV) - The Charles E. Laken facility is booming: growing from 3000 to 10,000 members. To handle the memberships, the YMCA needs to expand.

"Vacating Baughn Street allows us essentially to build a new outdoor park with outdoor sports court, pavilion, walking trail, play features and that'll be not just members, but the whole community," YMCA Chief Advancement Officer John Monson said.

The expansion is causing a controversy. The former St. Patrick's Church got torn down for the project. Preservationists tried to save the building, claiming it was historic to Council Bluffs. Monson is sympathetic but says it needed to be done.

"The church had been vacant on the market for several years, it would take millions and millions to bring it back to an operational state," Monson said.

Tony Beraldi lives on Harmony Street and isn't happy about the YMCA's latest moves.

"I'm not opposed to a park, I'm not opposed to the parking, that's what this real issue is they need parking," Beraldi said. "They didn't plan for their future, and so they really do need parking. If they need to build a park, that's wonderful but there's no reason they need to close that street."

Construction is expected to go through early summer with the YMCA hoping to complete the project by late summer or early fall. Still, Beraldi worries about his neighborhood's future.

"This is two neighbors that are going to be neighbors for 100 years that should be able to settle this dispute," Beraldi said.

There will be another city council meeting where the YMCA will present its design work and infrastructure plans for Baughn Street. Beraldi still wants the city council to reconsider its decision to vacate the street.