YMCA set for swimming, sweating, and sizable debt

A grand opening for the new YMCA facility is set for June 19 — File photo by Steve Myrick

The Island’s new YMCA is set to try out its facilities this Saturday in a “soft opening” for its charter members, who purchased special memberships last year as part of the YMCA’s fund raising drive. A grand opening celebration is scheduled for June 19, when the building will open full time to families and individuals who purchase general memberships.

The YMCA sold nearly 300 charter memberships, according to executive director Jill Robie. Most of those memberships went to families, so she estimates the 300 memberships represent about 700 to 750 people.

The “Y” has also sold approximately 40 annual memberships. Ms. Robie said the organization projected the sale of about 400 memberships before opening. “We’re pretty much where we were hoping to be,” Ms. Robie said. “We have a steady stream of people walking in. I expect we’ll have two spikes, one right after we open, and the other in the fall, when folks are coming to the “Y” when their outdoor activities begin to peter out.”

An annual membership for a two-adult family with children is $995. A seasonal membership for the same family would cost $450.

An annual membership for an individual costs $558, and for an individual age 62 or over is $446. Young adult memberships (20-24) are $446 and teen memberships (13-19) are $220. Monthly and daily memberships are also available.

Bills to pay

Chuck Hughes, president of the board of directors, said the difficult fund-raising climate has forced the YMCA to borrow money to finish the $10.3 million project. Loans totaling $3.5 million were needed to pay the contractor and establish operating capital.

“It’s a mortgage,” Mr. Hughes said. “We want to get rid of it as fast as we can. The money can be spent much better here on the Island, for people and programs.” Mr. Hughes said fund raising and membership sales will help retire the debt. Part of the loan is guaranteed by the federal government.

“I’d really like to retire the debt this summer,” Ms. Robie said. She said once the loans are paid off, work can begin on Phase II of the project, the addition of a gymnasium on one side, and a dedicated teen center on the other side. “They will round out the whole ‘Y’. We think the place is going to get pretty small, pretty quick,” Ms. Robie said.

Finishing touches

Earlier this week, workers were busy putting the finishing touches on the building trim, landscaping, installing kitchen appliances, and assembling the last of the high-tech exercise equipment.

The centerpiece of the building is a 25-yard pool, regulation size for high school and YMCA competition. A recreation pool is connected off to the side, so that children can play, or water exercise classes can occur, even if two schools are in the middle of swim meet in the main pool.

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School swim team will feel right at home with purple lane lines and signal flags. “There are shades of purple through the whole building,” Ms. Robie said. Indeed, the school colors extend to the locker rooms, snack bar, and activity rooms.

Upstairs is a massive strength and cardio room, with row after row of gleaming exercise equipment. “There’s a lot of choices out there, and they’re all state of the art, but we have the best of the best,” Ms. Robie said.

In addition to men’s and women’s locker rooms, there is a family locker room for parents who bring young children to the YMCA.

Downstairs there is a commercial kitchen, and rooms for children and teen activities.

Outside, construction workers are building an asphalt basketball court, and a visionary playground.

“It’s a playground designed so an able-bodied child and a child in a wheelchair can play together on the playground,” Ms. Robie said.