North Side Community Recreation Center (Grubb YMCA)

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515-237-1386 1611 11th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50314
The City of Des Moines invites your participation in a series of community meetings designed to gather input as we embark upon the first phase of planning for the new North Side Community Recreation Center.

Quick Links:
Public Meetings
Frequently Asked Questions
Additional Downloads

20211104_173950_Edited for Web

Planning Process timeline

WE NEED YOU! Community engagement and equity are fundamental priorities for the project. We need your help to ensure the inclusion of a broad range of perspectives, experiences, and ideas as we work with our consultant team to explore opportunities, identify priorities, and reach consensus regarding key and priority considerations for the future facility. Please join us for one or more of the following community meetings:

Community Meeting #1 – VISION
Thursday, October 14       
5:30-7:00 p.m.                            Topics:  Project introduction and gathering community input
Forest Avenue Library           Format:  Formal presentation with small group breakout sessions

Video Presentation for Meeting #1

Community Meeting #1 Presentation (pdf)

Community Meeting #2 – OPTIONS

Thursday, November 4     
5:30-7:00 p.m.                            Topics:  Project update, findings from previous meetings, feedback on options
Grubb YMCA                              Format: Formal presentation with multiple small group activities
1611 11th St.
Des Moines, IA 50314         

Video Presentation for Meeting #2

Community Meeting #2 Presentation (pdf)

Community Meeting #3 – CONCEPTS + PROCESS

Thursday, November 18   
5:30-7:00 p.m.                             Topic: Review project history and process timelines. Discuss building reuse and new construction. 
Grubb YMCA                               Format: Formal presentation, small breakout group workshops, and group discussion.
1611 11th St.
Des Moines, IA 50314 

Video Presentation for Meeting #3

Community Meeting #3 Presentation (pdf)


Frequently Asked Questions (Last Updated on 12/2/2021):

Q:  Who decided to allocate $12m for a Community Recreation Center, and when was a decision made?
A:  Between 2016-2019, several groups explored potential projects at the site of the Variety Club and City of Des Moines John R. Grubb Community YMCA (Grubb Y) and adjacent property. For various reasons, none of these projects moved forward. The City and the YMCA continued to collaborate to explore options for renovation or new construction on the site.

Around this time, community members advocated for use of sales tax dollars for neighborhood investment, including investment into the Grubb Y. This culminated in a March 2019 vote in which 70 percent of Des Moines voters approved a one-cent Local Option Sales and Service Tax (LOSST) to be used in part for neighborhood improvements. [Local Option Sales Service Tax (]

The City recognized the need to plan for the future in order to support ongoing community and recreational services at this site and in this neighborhood. Based on projected revenues from the sales tax, and through the City’s standard budget process, an allocation of funding was incorporated in the recommended FY2022 budget. This allocation included $230,000 for planning and $12m for construction, distributed over 4 years. The $12m is funded by Local Option Sales and Service Tax (LOSST), a direct result of the 2019 sales tax approval.

Because the City had uncertainty at the time regarding the Y’s ability to continue existing operations at this location, the City adopted the model of a Community Recreation Center as a guiding framework for the future project.

Q: Why is the name changed from “Variety Club and City of Des Moines John R. Grubb Community YMCA” (often referred to as “Grubb Y”) to “North Side Community Recreation Center”?
A:  The City values the John R. Grubb family’s support, dating back to their contributions to the project that enabled YMCA to open at this location in 1994. We decided to use “North Side” instead of “Grubb” for this project because the final name for the new or renovated facility is not yet decided. The Grubb family is aware of this project, and they will be involved in decisions about how the Grubb name may be used in the future. We intended “North Side” to reference the near north community location until an official name was determined through the fundraising phase or other means. We heard this may have caused confusion, and we have added a reference to “Grubb Y” on our materials and website.

We have heard concerns about the change from a Y to a Community Recreation Center. This is about more than the name. Since the City is leading the project, we are using our Community Recreation Center model as a guiding framework for planning the project. We recognize that services and programs at this site may be different than our other sites, and we will use this planning phase to help determine what needs to happen at this location. We understand that the YMCA is about more than a building. This place is special, and we want to keep what is special about the YMCA and its community-centered culture as we move forward with this project. We also are working with the Y to determine the best ways to continue working together to serve this community, including their ongoing involvement in the process, project, and future programming

Q:  Will the existing Grubb Y building be demolished?
A:  We don’t know yet. We’re exploring both renovation and new construction options with our design team in this planning phase. Cost analysis, final functional (program) requirements, and other pros and cons will be evaluated to make a final recommendation by the end of the planning phase.

Q:  Will there be a pool?
A:  We don’t know yet. We do know this is an important issue for many community members – that has been confirmed by input we’ve received at the first two meetings. We also know pools are challenging to build and operate. We are working with the design team to better understand the feasibility and potential implications of including a pool in either a renovation or a new construction scenario. The City plans to have recommendations regarding a pool by the end of the planning phase.

Q:  Why is the existing pool closed, and will it re-open in the near future?
A:  The pool initially closed due to the pandemic. During the closure, additional maintenance and repair issues arose. We evaluated what it would take to get it operational, and it is not feasible to reopen given where we are in the planning process.

Q:  Will the Grubb Y close?
A:  Based on the current framework, we anticipate there will be a transition at some point. The nature and timing of this transition is unknown until we are farther along in the process. However, the City is working with the Y to foster continued partnership and potential shared programming now and in the new facility.

Q:  What will happen in the interim, between now and the anticipated project completion in 2025?
A:  For now, the Grubb Y will continue to operate.

Q:  Will we still be able to have the same programs that we have now at the Y? 
A:  The variety and types of programming that may be offered will be determined based on community input and the various operational opportunities that may arise from this planning process. 

Q:  Will this Community Recreation Center detract from the existing E.K. Davis Park programs?
A:  No. In fact, the intent is to support and expand E.K. Davis Park programs through this project by adding capacity for year-round programming.

Q:  How will Brian Melton continue to be memorialized if the green space changes?  
A:  There is no intention to change the name of the park as features may change.

Q:  Will the project boundaries include the green space all the way to 9th street to the east? 
A:  To be determined through this process. The City does not own all the parcels in the open area east of the existing Grubb Y. Any future property purchase will be subject to City Council approval. 

Please direct questions or requests for additional information to the Parks and Recreation Department at (515)237-1386 or

Additional Information for Download:

Meet the Design Team for North Side Community Recreation Center
Project Timeline

20211129 North Side CRC A Frame Update

20211129 North Side CRC A Frame Update_Spanish