Groundbreaking ceremony held for new YMCA center

Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 1:10 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The Watertown Family YMCA is one step closer to its new community and aquatics center.

Ground was officially broken in a Wednesday morning ceremony at 146 Arsenal Street, the site of the new facility and the former site of a call center.

“We feel really good to be here, in this moment, in this place, knowing we are going to accomplish a dream for our community,” YMCA CEO Denise Young said.

Young had been waited for this moment for five years.

“2017 we started talking about it, and here we are at the groundbreaking today,” she said.

With a parked excavator as a backdrop, the community came together for an event some, at times, didn’t think would happen.

“I think Denise and I both felt that at times, and our respective boards. But we made it, and we got it through,” said Dave Zembiec, CEO of the Jefferson County Industrial Agency.

Between a global pandemic... a nearly 10-million-dollar price increase, and the discovery of contaminants called PCBs, it’s been an uphill battle.

“All of those challenges, we’ve had this great group of people working together to make sure we overcame them,” Young said.

The $27.5 million facility will include a six-lane lap pool, a recreational pool, multi-sport courts, an indoor track, a full wellness center, classrooms, and child watch facilities.

Young says the YMCA is still tying up some loose ends.

“We continue to seek grant funding to help offset some potential debt. That’s the piece we’ll continue to seek grant funding to assist us to have less debt at the end of the project,” she said.

The ground breaking for the facility comes just days after news of an 80-million dollar sports complex proposed for the town of Watertown. But Zembiec says he isn’t concerned.

“They’re going to be catering to these large weekend sports tournaments, concerts. The Y is going to be that day-to-day place that families can go for their caregiving, their children, their fitness, and other programs the Y offers,” he said.

Work is already underway. Young says a ribbon cutting is set for November 2023.

The YMCA will also host a reception at Savory Downtown from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

People will have the opportunity to share their experiences of the downtown Y and learn more about the new facility.

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