Day of Week: Sunday
Headline: When a plan is just a plan
Byline: By David Garbe
Credit: staff writer
AURORA - When the downtown redevelopment roadmap now on its
way through the city approval process made its first public
appearance last week, the phones at the YWCA started ringing
The redevelopment vision - essentially a map of the area
showing properties with strong redevelopment potential - shows
the YWCA’s riverfront site being transformed someday into a
hotel and conference center.
Although the plan is a guideline rather than a mandate, those who
didn't read the small print assumed the YWCA had already sold
its property on North River Street and would soon be closed.
And so they called en masse.
No, the YWCA isn't going anywhere, YW board President Diane
Beukelman told them. Nor will it be going anywhere anytime soon.
"No one has even come to us with any concrete plans or
offers," she said, and the YWCA is certainly not actively
trying to sell.
In other words, the rumors of the YWCA’s demolition have been
That said, Beukelman acknowledged that YWCA leaders are beginning to
think seriously about what kind of organization they want to be in
Last month, the YWCA decided to close its pool, largely because newer
swimming facilities were drawing away customers and causing the YWCA
to operate the pool at a loss.
At the same time, the YWCA’s core mission has shifted away
from recreation to tackling bigger social issues like providing
affordable child care and, of course, the group's new national
motto: "Eliminating racism, empowering women."
Although it still conducts fitness programs, most of the
YWCA’s 2,000 members are children involved in its day care or
As the YWCA operations continue to evolve, Beukelman said the idea of
moving to a new facility in Aurora is definitely not out of the
question, especially if the existing property can fetch a hefty price
in its now-gentrifying neighborhood.
"We realize like everyone else that downtown Aurora does seem
to be on the economic move," Beukelman said. "There
could be (financial) opportunity for us because of our
Looking to future
In 2002, the YWCA was engaged in negotiations with Hollywood
Casino-Aurora, which wanted to buy the YWCA’s property for
additional parking and a possible hotel. The casino already has
parking and an entranceway adjacent to the YWCA site.
Before the two parties ever came close to making a deal for the
hotel, talks ended when the casino was first sold to its current
owner, Penn National Gaming, and then saw its revenue drop because of
a large gambling tax increase by the state.
That tax hike was eliminated last year, but negotiations with the
YWCA never resumed, Beukelman said. Hollywood Casino officials could
not be reached for comment.
Whatever offers the future might bring, Beukelman said the YWCA
won't be making any major decisions until it has a clear sense
of its own goals.
This summer, the YWCA’s leadership is planning to bring in
consultants from the national headquarters to help identify the local
agency's strengths and to plot a course for meeting the Aurora
community's new needs in the future.
The corporate world would call it a long-term business plan; YWCA
calls it their Capacity Building Program.
It starts with consultants surveying about two dozen leaders in the
local YWCA organization for their input on the group's
strengths, its weaknesses and its potential to serve a changing
The process should be finished by the end of the summer, Beukelman
said, and take two or three months to complete.