YMCA South County Facility Plans Under County Review

Photo | Pam Schipper
The YMCA of Frederick County hopes to break ground on the new South County location next year and be open no later than early fall 2020.

The YMCA of Frederick County has submitted plans to the county to start the site plan review process for a new South County location between Urbana Middle and Urbana High schools on MD 80/Fingerboard Road.

“It’s a huge step,” said Chris Colville, YMCA president and CEO. “This is happening. This is a real deal. We are moving forward with the project.”

The Y has already secured an architect, general contractor and an engineer. The review process could take 12 to 14 months. “We are not expecting a lot of pushback or big conversations surrounding our project that are going to be any surprises to anybody, so we are hoping it is going to be a smooth process. But we know that it takes time,” she said. “We know we are not the only project that is getting reviewed as well.”

Ideally, the non-profit hopes to break ground next year and be open no later than early fall 2020. The facility will include a grand lobby, wellness center, large gymnasium, aquatics center, indoor walking/running track, kids family adventure center, group exercise studios, locker rooms and multipurpose athletic fields.

“I think the south part of the county is lacking in universal facilities that can meet the needs of the entire family,” Colville said. “A YMCA full facility will be able to address gaps in services for young children all the way through to active older adults in senior programming.”

Conversation for the facility began more than 10 years ago. Villages of Urbana developer Tom Natelli of Natelli Communities donated the almost 22-acre property between the schools to the YMCA. Colville noted the location is absolutely superb because it will allow them to provide in- and out-of-school services to both campuses and students and provide employment, mentoring and internship opportunities. “Just a wide range of collaborative initiatives that could be created here, which could be awesome,” she said.

The non-profit, Colville added, was not in a position to move forward with the development process until about four-and-a-half years ago when they looked to determine if there is a need, what specifically that need was and how the entity can address it and build a new facility. Staff determined there is a need, what the facility should include and “feel we have the capacity and the community partnership to pull together to make facility become a reality,” Colville said.

The Y launched a $22-million capital campaign several years ago. As of late August, they had raised 16 million or 66 percent of their goal. While the agency does have community partners and private/public partnership, many of the funds come from donations from residents who use their facilities.

“A lot of people think the Y has this unlimited bucket of resources that we can tap into some kind of national financial reserve and that is not true,” Colville said. “Any Y that wants to expand services or if you are going into a new community that doesn’t have YMCA services, it’s really supposed to be supported from a grassroots initiative and effort. … Pure philanthropy and donations from the community gives the YMCA that boost and motivation and credibility that the community does want (a facility) in their backyard and are willing to support it.”

About six months ago, the Y launched a brick campaign where residents, businesses or other groups could buy a 4-by-8 brick for $500 and/or an 8-by-8 brick for $1,000. The campaign “can involve a lot of different families because we know not everybody has the capacity to give great amounts of dollars and might not have that expendable cash flow to give to a capital campaign,” Colville said. “You are talking about a small investment. That’s something that is going to last what we would assume is a lifetime in that community.”

Residents will also have a sense of pride because they know they were a part of getting the new Y established, she added. The campaign “shows how thousands of people (unite) to build a community center, and that brings the community together. I think that it is important too to show that physically and not just financially, but emotionally, socially, spiritually, being able to demonstrate that through a physical structure.”
For more information, go the YMCA capital campaign page at diveinymca.org.

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