YMCA aims to build new branch

The Boardman branch has about 12,000 members.
AUSTINTOWN -- Within five to six years the YMCA hopes to begin work on a branch in the township.
"That's been part of our long-range plan from day one," said Kenneth Rudge, CEO of the YMCA of Youngstown. "We planned to open a branch first in Boardman and then in Austintown."
The D.D. & amp; Velma Davis Family YMCA, McClurg Road, Boardman, opened in late 2003 and now boasts about 12,000 members.
But with the fund-raising recently completed on that project, the YMCA wants to wait before beginning a large campaign for another branch. Work for an Austintown facility won't start for at least a couple of years, and then it will depend on contributions from the community.
"The YMCA looks at the community we're serving and our population growth areas," said Rudge, who added that membership at the Davis branch "is exceeding all of expectations."
That branch has attracted members from Boardman, Poland, southern Youngstown, Canfield and parts of Columbiana County, Rudge said.
"It's an opportunity for us to serve the community and also serve families and kids," he said.
Filling a need
Not a lot of facilities cater to teenagers, younger children and their families, Rudge said, and the YMCA tries to fill that niche. A branch in Austintown would serve residents of that township as well as North Jackson and Canfield.
No particular location has been identified, he said.
"We know that Austintown is a really similar community to Boardman with the growing new housing starts," Rudge said. "It's very family-oriented and needs the kinds of programs and facilities that the YMCA has to offer."
Recreational facilities exist in the township, but there's nothing like the YMCA here, he said.
Despite some peoples' predictions that a Boardman branch would draw members from the main location in downtown Youngstown, Rudge said membership at the city location is at an all-time high of about 8,500.
Besides the two branches, the YMCA also operates Camp Fitch in New Springfield, Pa., where children from about 90 Mahoning County schools visit annually. The camp is also rented by church and business groups throughout the year.
In August, the YMCA will dedicate a new $5 million dining hall at Camp Fitch.
About 60,000 people participate in various YMCA-sponsored programs, Rudge said.

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