Bayside YMCA Executive Director Joe Martino, wearing a sweater, slacks and a plastic construction helmet, pointed toward a gutted section of the Bayside Family YMCA building and smiled.
“That’s Regina’s office,” Mr. Martino said, laughing a bit as he motioned at Ms. Raffa’s old workspace. One of the four cinderblock walls was completely missing, leaving the interior exposed to the late-November elements.
Just a few feet east of Ms. Raffa’s old office stands the new framework that will house the Collis Aquatic Center and Hall Family Center at the YMCA’s West Street campus.
The new construction is part of a two-phase plan to upgrade and improve the Bayside Family YMCA, a facility that was built more than five decades ago. The new building will include an eight-lane pool, family locker rooms, a childcare center, a new entryway, sitting areas and more.
“It’s going to be a more family-friendly Y,” Mr. Martino said, standing a few feet from where workers were pouring the concrete for the new swimming pool. “People are really excited to see this is happening.”
Years ago, officials at the YMCA realized the need to expand the local facility. The existing building was squeezed by a growing membership, strained by years of use, and its basement fitness center was nearly impossible to access for folks with physical disabilities.
YMCA executives set out on a capital campaign to raise about $10 million. When plans were first drafted, the economy was strong, but as calls for donations started the recession set it. Despite the fiscal challenge, fund-raisers managed to rally the necessary support and today, as work on the new pool and family center kicks into high gear, officials are about $850,000 short of their goal.
Mr. Martino credits the hard-working volunteers who have kept their focus locked on the fiscal targets. Sandra Carney, Bayside’s capital campaign director, said the start of construction has actually helped the fund-raising effort.
“There’s definitely more interest … the feedback has been great,” she said, adding that officials still plan to complete phase two in the future.
Mr. Martino praised the YMCA members who never lost faith in the project despite the economic challenges. The executive director also said local Y members have shown an impressive resiliency while coping with the changes and challenges during the recent construction.
“With the interruptions, there are two things that come to mind — first is how much more difficult this is than what I thought it was going to be. And the second is how well the members have rolled with the punches,” Mr. Martino said. “They’ve taken it in stride.”