SHERIDAN — Whitney Benefits announced Thursday morning the sale of the Whitney soccer fields adjacent to Whitney Commons as well as the west portion of the existing parking lot for $1.71 million.

The Perkins Foundation has purchased the property for future community development, which includes plans for an indoor aquatic center.

Sheridan County YMCA Executive Director Jay McGinnis said Thursday morning that the Perkins Foundation is expected to deed the property to the YMCA within the next week or so.

“Now we have a green light to go full steam ahead,” McGinnis said. “The property comes as a special gift to us from Perkins and it comes unrestricted, so we can continue to play soccer on it and get into the introduction of the new aquatic center and repurposing of space at the YMCA.”

He added that the large gift from Perkins secures that property for the YMCA no matter its future use. It also signals to other major donors and the community that the aquatic center is important, viable and big.

“It gives us the momentum and credibility to visit with major donors,” McGinnis said. “We have been doing that, but now can ask for commitments.”

The campaign to raise money for the project is being called “Living our cause.” McGinnis explained that the name was developed because the creation of the aquatic center will do so much more than create an indoor pool facility.

“When we stand in the space of existing pools … it is this is expansive big space,” McGinnis said. This is the prize, this space. It is likely the space where we’d expand preschool, afterschool and chronic disease programs at the YMCA and bring additional good work to the community through our cause-driven work. Aquatics is a piece of that, but so are these other things that can be expanded with the repurposing of the space occupied by the current pools.”

The overall cost for the aquatic center is projected to be $12.5 million.

McGinnis said last week that while it may be optimistic, it’s not unreasonable to think that construction of the facility could begin as soon as fall 2016 or spring 2017.

Officials will also meet with local architecture firms this month to discuss the construction phase of the project.

So far, the Citizens for Community Recreation’s fundraising efforts have gone smoothly. McGinnis said they are still in what he calls the “quiet phase” in which they are making plans for the facility itself and soliciting large donors to contribute to the project. Already, they have received substantial large-scale monetary commitments and verbal commitments from donors.

In the sale of the property to the Perkins Foundation, a certified appraiser was used and the property was sold for the certified appraisal value of $1,710,000. Whitney Benefits has agreed to commit the sale’s proceeds from the property for the purpose of the nursing and dental hygiene educational program at Sheridan College. A future building will be named the “B.F. and Rose H. Perkins Building” on the Sheridan College campus.