YMCA receives $9M grant for aquatic & community center

Updated: Sep. 18, 2020 at 10:32 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Watertown Family YMCA has received a $9 million grant to help it transform the former call center building downtown into an aquatic and community center.

The Y has plans to convert a portion of the building into a community center with a six-lane lap pool, a separate full-size recreational pool, three exercise rooms, an arts/multipurpose room, two indoor tennis courts, and a community kitchen.

YMCA CEO Denise Young said, “This funding makes it possible for this amazing project to happen and bring this resource to downtown, for the military community, for our local community to have access to just a really incredible experience for the future.”

The project is expected to cost $18 million.

“It’s a massive undertaking that will have a massive impact on this community and the surrounding area,” Young said.

The money is from the Department of Defense and was supported by officials at Fort Drum because the facility will benefit military families.

“We have so many young families that come to Fort Drum and they come to the Y. They want their kids in programming at the Y," Young said.

The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency applied for the grant on the Y’s behalf in June.

JCIDA Deputy CEO David Zembiec says another qualification for the DoD money is an endorsement from the local military installation.

When presented with multiple projects, Zembiec says Fort Drum officials put the Y’s plan at the top of the list.

“This was the installation’s highest priority among those projects. And, it was an easy, I think, decision to make because it was the one that was the most shovel-ready, the biggest impact on military families, and the most transformational project that we came up with at the time,” he said.

Young said fundraising is expected to kick off soon to help pay for the rest of the project.

The building was originally a Woolworth department store and has been used by several companies as a call center for many years.

The grant award was announced by Sen. Charles Schumer’s office Friday.

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