WHAT’S YOUR Y? A Dream For the Community

This ad was placed in The Iron Mountain News in 1972 when the original fundraising effort for the pool was underway.

IRON MOUNTAIN – Year-round public swimming, interscholastic aquatic competition, intramural water sports, swimming education and water recreation for all ages.

Those were among the promises pledged to the Dickinson County community as a public drive for $100,000 began in 1972 to complete financing and build a pool in what would become known as the Crystal Lake Community Center.

The idea of an all-inclusive recreational area at Crystal Lake first originated some four years earlier by members of the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Jaycees and Jaycettes. A committee, chaired by William Strand, conducted thorough study and research in consideration of a potential recreation-oriented project at the Crystal Lake site.

Concluding that the project was “not only feasible, but desirable” a Crystal Lake Master Plan was developed. That original plan included for the possibility of such amenities as nature and snowmobile trails, lighted beginner ski hill, toboggan chute, two picnic areas, model airplane site, revamping of an existing softball field into a new little league field, lighted basketball and tennis courts and much, much more depending the funding that could be raised.

From birth of the idea in early 1969, Strand and his fellow Jaycees and Jaycettes worked tirelessly over the better part of the next few years garnering county-wide support for the project.

Strand’s widow Darlene, in a recent donation letter to the YMCA, said part of the reason the whole Community Center project started was because William wanted his children to be able to swim. William could not swim.

“He would be so pleased to see the activities that are provided by the YMCA and would be thrilled to know it will be expanding and improved,” Darlene wrote, adding that their children and grandchildren all learned to swim at the Community Center pool.

The Dickinson County Board of Supervisors first adopted sponsorship of the Crystal Lake Master Plan in special session just before Christmas in 1969, agreeing to submit an application for State Recreation Bond monies. County Supervisor Bernard Mainville made the motion to sponsor the project and was supported by Supervisor Edward Jansen. Ivar Anderson, James Farrington, Gilbert LaFave, Garland Mainville, George McAuliffe, Dr. Robert Mellon, George Pera, Cecil Rushford and John Spera also cast supporting votes.

Soon after the county sponsorship, support poured in from other Dickinson County groups and organizations. All units of government including school boards, as well as every civic, fraternal and political group to which the plan was submitted added their support.

The proposed site location in the middle of the county’s population center was one of the main reasons for the overwhelming support. It was determined that at building at Crystal Lake would be no more than a 15-minute ride for 19,000 of the county’s 22,000 residents at the time. And being centered almost equal distance between Iron Mountain and Kingsford High Schools would give both schools an ideal spot to take advantage of aquatics programs as an expansion of their physical education programs.

As part of their proposal, Strand and the Jaycees challenged other civic and fraternal groups to mobilize the volunteer manpower of their organizations toward the project.

As momentum grew for the recreation project, a tandem project for a community services center building housing various government agencies was fully funded first in large part through a federal Housing and Urban Development grant in the amount of $324,000. But the addition of the indoor recreational space including a pool would require another $312,000.

With overwhelming support throughout the county and backed by both county and city sponsorship, applications for various grants were submitted. In 1971, soon after the funding was announced for the community services center building, it was learned that the recreation and pool project would receive $212,000 in funding through Michigan Urban Park and Recreational bond monies from the Michigan DNR. That left $100,000 to raise from the businesses and residents of the community to complete funding for the pool.

The public campaign for the final $100,000 began in early 1972. Support came in from just about every business and organization in the county as well as hundreds upon hundreds of donations from private citizens. A groundbreaking for the community services building was held in April, and by the middle of June the remaining $100,000 goal for the pool was reached, allowing construction to begin as scheduled.

“We are obviously very elated that the fund drive goal has been reached,” fund drive chairman Gary Olson said at the time. “The response to the project by almost every aspect of Dickinson County area’s society has been tremendous. There are so many people who contributed time, effort and money to the project, it’s impossible to thank them all. Our thanks to these people seems inadequate.”

The real thanks came in the form of an indoor recreation facility and pool that would go on to serve the residents of the county for the next several decades.

Strand said her donation to the Capital Campaign is done in memory of those who helped with the effort to get the Community Center built.

“The Jaycee and Jaycette Committees worked so hard getting the building to become a reality,” she said. “And now the YMCA is carrying on that vision of the original master plan.”