YMCA's larger building, due in March, is to provide for growing membership

A bigger `Y' to meet need

October 03, 2007|By Ari Schwartz | Ari Schwartz,sun reporter

For six years, Richard Hammond has worked out at the Howard County YMCA four to five times a week, putting up with older equipment and a crowded facility.

"The air conditioning works off and on, and this place is getting more and more members. After January 1st, when everyone decides to get in shape for the year, this place gets packed," Hammond said.

By spring, however, his patience will be rewarded.

Targeting a March 2008 completion date, the YMCA is constructing a 36,000-square-foot facility that will more than double the size of the "Y."

The building is the first part of a two-phase, $11.2 million renovation project, and will provide the YMCA's growing membership with opportunities previously unavailable in limited space. When the new building is completed, the current building, which opened about 1966, will be closed and renovated. The finished project will feature two pools, two large gyms, a climbing wall and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

"We know our facility has been inadequate to meet the needs of the community. ... The objective [of the renovation] is to meet those needs," said Bob Brosmer, chief operating officer of the Central Maryland YMCA .

The membership at the Ellicott City facility is 6,923, and Brosmer said he expects that to grow significantly when the renovation project is completed.

Wall torn down

As membership increased in recent years, the YMCA struggled to accommodate its members. When it became clear that a designated stretching area was needed, a wall was torn down and the conference room was converted. According to the YMCA's center director, Dawn Chrystal, this was "just another example of us using the space we have to the best of our ability, but we're just growing outside the walls."

Frequent members, such as Hammond, are looking forward to the opening of the building. "I'm excited for new equipment and more equipment, so I won't have to stand in line waiting," he said.

For Richard Griffith, who has worked at the YMCA for 15 years, the transition to a new facility could not have come at a better time. Surveying the fitness center, Griffith said, "This is an old building, and we have as much in it as we can possibly get."

He noted that one of the treadmills registers more than 78 thousand miles.

Troy Weaver, the Central Maryland YMCA's vice president of health and wellness, said the renovation project has been funded by a $1.5 million state bond and a $2 million land sale to the Howard County school system.

Veterans Elementary

The school system used the land to build Veterans Elementary School.

The YMCA also has raised about $1.9 million, including a $750,000 donation from the Dancel Family Foundation, Weaver said. He expects the YMCA to raise about $1 million more and finance the rest.

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