IRMC Acquires Mack Park From J.S. Mack Foundation

Indiana Regional Medical Center now owns Mack Park.

The acquisition was announced during a Tuesday afternoon May 28th press conference in the pool area of the park, which, over the years, has served as the longtime home of the Indiana County Fair and other community events.

The 57-acre park was purchased for $4 million from the J.S. Mack Foundation, a philanthropic organization based in Indiana that had owned and operated the grounds since 1934. The grounds were originally owned by John Sephus Mack, president of the now defunct-G.C. Murphy chain of variety stores in 11 states across the U.S. in the early 1900s, before it became a community park in 1934.

“We think it will secure the future of the park for the community over the long haul,” Steve Wolfe, IRMC president, said. “The J.S. Mack Foundation was struggling to keep it all going.”

Jonathan Mack, president of the J.S. Mack Foundation, said the YMCA of Indiana County will continue to maintain the pool and its programming at the park, and the Indiana County Fair will be unaffected.

“As long as the Indiana County Fair is in business, they have a permanent home (at Mack Park),” he said.

Wolfe added that, from the hospital’s perspective, there are plans to “develop” Mack Park into a wellness mall and, after 10 years, adding buildings for hospital expansion.

“We have three sites (at Mack Park) that have been identified that won’t disrupt the pool or the fair,” Wolfe said. “We’re at a point where we’re planning another project, beyond the behavioral health project, and if that goes through, we’ll be kind of out of building sites on our campus. So that’s the long-term, strategic thing for the hospital.”

Mack said that, as part of the acquisition deal, there will be a 10-year moratorium on any development by IRMC at Mack Park until May 2034.

“There is also an understanding that it will always be called Mack Park to honor the legacy of J.S. Mack, who formed Mack Park,” he said. “Also, via deed restriction, there is an understanding that 25 percent of the land will always be used, in perpetuity, for a public park, recreation, etc.”

Other speakers, along with Wolfe and Mack, at Tuesday’s announcement included state Rep. Jim Struzzi, YMCA/J.S. Mack co-chairs Cathleen Zilner and C.J. Spadafora, YMCA of Indiana County CEO Eric Neal and state Sen. Joe Pittman.

Mack said the sale of the park to IRMC came about because it was “too burdensome, financially, to maintain on an annual basis.

“We were losing about $12,000 per month just to maintain the park,” he said. “We got to the point where we thought it was a good idea to talk to interested parties about potentially acquiring Mack Park.”

Talks, Mack said, have been ongoing with IRMC for the last 1½ years.

“For the (J.S.) Mack Foundation, it really takes the burden off of our shoulders of having to run a park. There’s a whole lot that goes into running a park on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “It got to the point where we decided that it was better off for someone else to run the park.”

Neal said the deal means the YMCA will be able to expand its programming, as well as become the point of contact and coordinate use for people and groups that wish to use the park for special events.

“We will continue to run the pool as we have since 1995, the summer daycare camp and the Star-Spangled Celebration,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to identify other programming gaps that exist between places where people want to do things or aren’t able to do things, and trying to find a way to bring them here to do it.”

Mack said proceeds from the sale will be used to “recapitalize” the J.S. Mack Foundation “so that we can, once again, become a philanthropic investing arm for the residents of Indiana County.”

Wolfe, Mack and Neal all agreed it was a good deal all the way around.

“IRMC got what it wanted; the YMCA got what it wanted; and the J.S. Mack Foundation got what it needed and the community is going to be unaffected,” Mack said. “Mack Park is going to stay and live forever for the community, and that was my biggest concern throughout (discussions).”

“You know, 57 acres, there are a lot of things here and a lot of big events like the Fourth of July and different things, so it’s a good thing,” Wolfe said.