Bettendorf City Council approves partnership, Life Fitness Center sale to YMCA

Plans for ‘The Landing’ move forward
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 12:05 AM CDT
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BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) - In two near-unanimous votes, the Bettendorf City Council approved plans to move forward on “The Landing,” a proposed multimillion-dollar recreation project.

The $21.7 million complex could reimagine Middle Park. It includes a new water park to replace Splash Landing and a permanent ice rink.

In the first of two public hearings at Tuesday night’s meeting, people shared their thoughts on a shared use agreement between the City and the YMCA of the Iowa Mississippi Valley. The agreement allows the Y to operate the water park portion of the development, while the city maintains ownership.

Then, in the second public hearing, residents voiced their opinion on the sale of the Life Fitness Center to the YMCA.

According to city leaders they received about 30 written comments prior to the hearings.

In person, about 15 people spoke, a majority against the plans. Meanwhile, only two people at the hearing spoke in favor, both of whom serve on lower-level city boards.

Bettendorf resident Donna Noble said she’s upset with the city’s plan to use COVID relief funds to put up its third of the deal.

“This will be spent on something used only three months out of the year when so many businesses and families suffered severe financial difficulties during COVID,” Noble said.

Others, like Pleasant Valley boys tennis coach Randy Brockhage, were concerned about what a sale means for the future of tennis and pickleball in the Quad Cities.

“The ‘Fit’ has made tennis affordable in this community,” Brockhage said. “The ‘Fit’ has helped make tennis a true lifetime fitness activity that many people can play.”

According to City Administrator Decker Ploehn, the YMCA will assume the losses on the plan, leaving the city about $300,000 annually to reallocate elsewhere.

“Our memberships have gone from 1,350 to 856. 25 years ago we had 3,000 members,” Ploehn said. “The market has changed. Clearly, the market is outside of the Fitness Center environment.”

Only First Ward Alderman Jerry Sechser voted against the two plans. He said getting rid of a fitness asset isn’t beneficial to residents.

“While It’s good that all these fitness centers are around, I think we need as many fitness centers as possible,” Sechser said.

On the other hand, Scott Naumann said even though it’s an emotional subject for many, he felt it’s in the citizen’s best interest to part ways with the gym.

“I think we can write a big future, but not if we’re stuck in the past, Naumann said. “Not if we’re stuck in the present.”

According to the president of the YMCA, they will approve the deals on their end Wednesday. The non-profit will officially take over the Life Fitness Center this January.

The next steps for “The Landing” include finding bidders for development which should take place in the next couple of months. The earliest the project could start construction would be the spring of 2023.