What’s up with the new “Y”? An unexpectedly fast end to the fund drive for a new YMCA building with a pool and indoor tennis courts has left the organization playing catch-up on construction plans.
Officials had hoped to get shovels in the ground by the end of spring. Though that didn’t happen, it should happen soon, Thomas Van Deinse, chief executive officer of the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA tells The Ticker.
“We are moving forward,” he says. “It’s taken a little longer than some people had hoped, myself included.”
Right now the Y board is preparing bid specifications for contractors to build the $12 million-plus health and fitness center. On the blueprint: a pool and other aquatics facilities, weight-training equipment, administrative offices and a chapel.
The rapid conclusion to the fund drive was in large part spurred by a $2 million challenge pledge issued by the late Robert Foster of Frankfort. Foster’s gift was made on the condition that others pledge the other $4 million needed to meet the $12 million fund-raising goal.
It was an effective magnet, and helped the Y achieve its financial goal within the last half of 2011. The drive had languished at the $6 million mark for years.
Tragically, Foster will not see the finished product.
The Frankfort resident and retired bank president was killed in a boat crash in Lake of the Woods in Ontario on June 2.
Van Deinse says the date for beginning construction has yet to be firmed up. This much he knows:
“We’re planning a soft opening for the fall of 2013 and a grand opening in January, 2014,” he says, at which time he predicts the building will be complete.
The status of the project has been a hot topic – particularly since backers reached their fundraising goal in January, said Marc Judge, president of the board of directors.
“There have been a lot of inquiries about it and rightfully so,” he says.
“The downside was that nobody had the foresight to say this is going to happen in a few months, so it’s been a quick ramp-up to catch up on the architectural, planning and construction end of it, Judge says.
The tennis courts in the new location will replace those at the current Y on South Airport Road. That building – owned by Garfield Township and permanently leased to the YMCA – will continue to house basketball courts and other facilities.