Senator pushes defense secretary for $9M for Watertown YMCA project

WWNY Senator pushes defense secretary for $9M for Watertown YMCA project

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Senator Chuck Schumer is going to bat for the Watertown Family YMCA to get a critical grant that would help fund a multi-million dollar aquatic center in downtown Watertown.

It’s a project that is slated to cost $18 million - transforming a former call center building into an aquatics and community center.

“We are very excited to think about having a new Y, a new aquatic center for our community, and just very excited to serve the people here,” said Denise Young, YMCA CEO.

Senator Chuck Schumer is pushing for Jefferson County and the YMCA to receive a $9 million grant from the Department of Defense. The New York Democrat made a personal call to Defense Secretary Mark Esper asking him to approve it.

The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency applied for the grant on the Y’s behalf in June and deputy CEO Dave Zembiec says this $9 million grant is critical. He says the project can still go on without it, but the timeline would change significantly.

“We’ve got our fingers crossed and remain hopeful. It’s great to have that kind of personal outreach. It’s great with the support we’ve had from our other representatives as well. All of that support helps,” said Zembiec.

Because our military community would also benefit from having the center, the project is eligible for funding from the Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot grant program.

“The YMCA is a recognized part of the military network. They do a lot of programs for our military families. The military is such an important part of our own population and is so integrated, that there’s a lot of benefit to improving the quality of life for the military families as well,” said Zembiec.

If it gets the funding, the YMCA will have to come up with another $9 million to pay for the project. The grants will be awarded no later than September 15.

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