Archived Story

YMCA unveils expansion plan

Published 11:21pm Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bret Hendrie is a man with a plan.
The Niles-Buchanan YMCA’s CEO is hoping to generate enthusiasm with a new master plan for the Front Street facility, recently finished by the organization’s board of directors.

The Niles-Buchanan YMCA plans to focus on youth with its 30,000-square-foot addition. There are no immediate plans for construction, but YMCA CEO Bret Henrie believes the project could begin to move forward as early as late 2012.
The Niles-Buchanan YMCA plans to focus on youth with its 30,000-square-foot addition. There are no immediate plans for construction, but YMCA CEO Bret Henrie believes the project could begin to move forward as early as late 2012.

“This project was done to look at how we could better use our facility and what were some of the things our new facility needs to offer at a much better level,” Hendrie said.

When the organization was developing plans for its current building years ago, Hendrie explained, an estimated 17,000-square-feet of space had to be cut from the design when the project came in “about $2 million over budget.”

What resulted was the YMCA’s current facility. But the hopes to expand has not been diminished and the delay, Hendrie said, turned out to work for the organization.

Calling the delay a “god send,” Hendrie said when it came time to sit down and revisit what lay ahead for the future of the YMCA, it was found, “the needs have changed.”

There is no time table for any development of the master plan, broken down into what will likely be a number of phases of development, construction and renovation. There are no current fundraisers in the works and Hendrie said the likelihood of movement on the plan would not take place until sometime in late 2012.

Until then, what he’s hoping to see is increased enthusiasm for the project.

“It’s keeping these volunteers motivated, the community hungry, the membership hungry for change and additions,” he said.

Those plans include a new youth wellness and teen lounge as part of a designated space for teens which would include games, a lounge and even computer space.

“We’re really looking programically at what our needs are,” Hendrie said.

Those needs translate into more opportunities and avenues for families to take advantage of, especially when their children get older.

Right now on average, Hendrie said the YMCA will see 200 kids come in and out of their current child watch services throughout the day, where children can take part in various activities while their parents are getting a workout in the gym. With the planned addition, those capabilities would double, he said.

Double and extend into planned teen and youth programs and opportunities.

Where families sometimes find it harder to spend time at the YMCA as children grow and programs are limited, an extension to cater to all age groups could benefit members.

That’s the plan, anyway.

“The main focus of Phase 1 of this project would be youth,” Hendrie said.

That focus comes from listening to what members are wanting and needing and “based on what we see” at the YMCA.

“The need is there,” Hendrie said. “I think a lot of positives will come from this.”

Thinking into the future, Hendrie said the additions specifically designed for its younger members could spur the development of youth clubs that could take on philanthropic projects and learns aspects of becoming active in the community.

Though there are still plenty of steps to take toward the estimated 30,000-square-feet of newly constructed and renovated space, Hendrie is optimistic.

“It’s going to happen,” he said.

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