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YOUNGSTOWN YMCA works out improvements to downtown facility



Published: Tue, January 8, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



In the last decade, the YMCA has invested $2 million in its downtown Youngstown building.

YOUNGSTOWN -- The YMCA will invest more than $500,000 in its 120,000-square-foot downtown branch over the next three years.

Improvements will include replacement of 15 air conditioners and the addition of air conditioning to areas such as the weight room, wellness center and youth center that have never had it.

A new ceiling and replacement of the roof over the upper gym, new paint and safety mats on gymnasium walls as well as new lighting and refinishing of the hardwood floors, and the addition of a youth computer and study center are also planned. The YMCA also will buy a new small bus.

"This is part of our continuing commitment to both this facility and to downtown Youngstown," said Kenneth L. Rudge, chief executive officer. "Over the past decade, we've invested about $2 million in the downtown branch. Very few organizations, public or private, have put anywhere near that amount of money into downtown."

What's been done: Improvements over the last 10 years include new roofing, heating and air conditioning, a new elevator and fire escapes, and swimming pool renovations. Usable space for programs was increased by 8,000 square feet by eliminating basement storage spaces. The city also contributed to improvements by donating land for use as a 90-space parking lot, Rudge added.

Although the YMCA has plans to expand into the suburbs -- the organization will break ground for a family branch in Boardman this spring -- Rudge said the commitment to the downtown facility has never been stronger.

Membership at the YMCA tops 8,000 and about 33,000 others participate in YMCA programs, the largest participation in the organization's history, said Mike Shaffer, central branch director. "We average 2,000 people on a weekday and over 5,000 on Saturday."

The YMCA serves every segment of the community, Shaffer said. People who work downtown are especially well-served. They can exercise before or after work or during their lunch breaks, her added.

YMCA's history: Since 1883, the YMCA has been an integral part of downtown, serving its members by helping them to build healthy spirits, minds and bodies, Rudge said, vowing that he and the YMCA board of directors will remain true to that mission and to the downtown facility.

During the fund-raising campaign for the new family suburban branch, an additional $700,000 was donated specifically for the downtown branch.

The new suburban branch is a collaborative effort with St. Elizabeth Health Center and will be built on property leased from Humility of Mary Health Partners at Market Street and McClurg Road.

In turn, HMHP will lease space inside the new facility for a wellness center that will offer physical, occupational and speech therapies, sports medicine, medically supervised fitness programs and outpatient cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services.

The Boardman YMCA, a $9 million project, will house a gymnasium, fitness equipment, senior citizen and youth centers, nursery, chapel, food court, whirlpool and sauna, and indoor, outdoor and therapeutic pools.




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