New YMCA builds excitement
The buzz in the air was almost electric Saturday morning, at the nearly completed YMCA building on the Vineyard Haven-Edgartown Road. Bright sunshine helped fuel the excitement, but it was the promise of the Y and the booming progress on the building that attracted some 300 Islanders who stopped by to have a look at the big, bright building and its enclosed treasures.
Tiny people, old people, and everyone in between followed board members and staffers on tours through the new facility on Saturday. The friendly, animated guides seemed just plain thrilled to be showing off the fulfillment of their hard work and dreams.
Designed by Mashek MacLean Architects of Vineyard Haven, the building features a long south-facing façade full of windows that turn the interior into a bright, airy space. At its heart is a 25-yard competition swimming pool - a jewel that was once only the glint in the eyes of a few dedicated swimmers who started plotting in the mid-1980s to create an aquatic center on the Island.
The pool will soon be full of water, and soon after, full of swimmers. The regional high school plans to form a swim team, perhaps as soon as next winter.
After establishing a link to the YMCA, the original organizers quickly broadened their mission. They recognized a growing need for a teen center and a family fitness venue, especially if they were equi-distant from the three down-Island population centers. The new building houses both, as well as a child watch area, where children of adults who come to work out or swim will be looked after, a cafe, and a multi-purpose area for after-school and teen activities.
And they won't stop here. Plans are already drawn for the second stage of the building, which calls for a gym with a full-size basketball court rimmed by a running track on a balcony above.
For now, the teen center will be in the basement of the new building, but as soon as funds are in hand, two large rooms and a kitchen will be added to the south end of the building.
"As soon as we have the money, we'll start building," said Christine Todd, director of development, who anticipates an uptick in donations once the building is up and running.
Plans call for the administration to move into the new building in mid-April, and the grand opening will take place some time in May, not bad considering that groundbreaking took place just last April.
Another open house is coming up on Saturday, March 27.