The Southington YMCA is on the verge of closing a deal that would give the organization ownership of the on North Main Street and with the purchase, staff and members of the Board of Directors are looking forward to the future.
The purchase would be the third continuous property that the company has purchased this year, providing extensive land for parking lot expansion and allowing the YMCA to begin planning for facility expansion along the back side of the building said Executive Director John Myers.
“This is part of an ongoing effort to help prepare the YMCA for the future,” Myers said. “It’s part of a strategic plan to enhance infrastructure and, in the long run, help our non-profit to become more financially viable.”
The plan calls not only for parking lot expansion, but the development of an addition to eventually be built behind the YMCA where staff parking currently exists.
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Myers said the new facilities, which are still within the planning stage, would include a brand new multi-purpose family gymnasium center. The center will include traditional gym equipment as well as a climbing wall and other activities, he said.
The YMCA will also look to renovate the indoor pool, which is nearly 40-years-old, as part of the ongoing expansion project.
Joseph Eddy, a member of the YMCA Board of Directors, said the decision to move forward came after extensive research and surveys conducted with Y members over the past several years. The survey, authorized by the board, was designed to determine what needs YMCA members felt were most critical.
“Our hope is that this expansion will address those needs,” he said. “In the end, it will allow use to eliminate our lease for the gymnasium that’s being used now, provide improvements to the pool and HVAC system and address issues within both the men’s and women’s bathroom and locker room areas.”
But the effort hasn’t come without its challenges either.
One of the properties the YMCA recently acquired, the Jesse Olney House on North Main Street, was slated for demolition until a recent court injunction put a stop to it. A New Britain Superior Court judge, acting on a complaint by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, signed the injunction in August preventing demolition until at least Jan. 30, 2013.
Members of the Southington Historical Society and YMCA were unable to come to an agreement on the property, which members of the historical society said has an important historical value to the downtown area.
The YMCA had presented the Southington Historical Society with three options for the property: buy it at a cost of $330,000, lease it at $30,000 per year or allow the demolition with a statue to be erected in its place. The negotiations ended when historical society members expressed concerns about being able to come up with the money.
Both Eddy and Myers called the challenge “disappointing” as litigation has increased costs for the expansion plan, but said that the YMCA was determined to find a way to move forward with the plans. Myers said the goal is to have a site plan completed and approved to allow for parking lot construction, including the creation of a separate Mill Street entrance to the YMCA facilities, to begin by next summer.
“Part of our urgency in this is the need to get our site plan done,” Myers said. “This is an exciting opportunity and we are looking forward to getting things underway.”
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