Feb. 16--LEWISBURG -- The vision for what will become the Union County YMCA is clearer with Weis Markets' donation of the former Wal-Mart building along Route 15 in Kelly Township.
Weis agreed to a "cost-neutral lease" with the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA. Norm Jones, YMCA board president and project planning chairman, put the size of the building at 96,000 square feet.
"As long as there is a Y here, this will be our property," Jones said during a tour of the building Wednesday night.
"We are so pleased to have the YMCA take an ideal site that will help create a world-class health and wellness center with an aquatics facility which has been long needed in Lewisburg and the Central Susquehanna Valley," Jonathan Weis, chairman and CEO of Weis Markets, said in a press release.
About two dozen volunteers, board members and guests of the YMCA toured the vacant building Wednesday night for an imagining of what the facility will look like and offer at the end of the $13.8 million project.
According to Jones, $3.4 million was raised through approximately 36 large donations in the last six months. A $3 million state grant application is pending, and the project was approved for $4 million in federal tax credits, Jones said.
The YMCA has targeted an additional estimated $2.9 million in large local donations before beginning a public campaign for the remaining $500,000.
Martha Barrick, a YMCA volunteer, said the capital raised in a half-year is indicative of the community's commitment to the project and to itself.
"People care about (the community) and they want to be a part of it, and we don't have to go outside to raise funds," Barrick said.
The board hopes to break ground on the project in the fourth quarter of this year and have the facility open by summer 2018, Jones said. Last year, ground-breaking was targeted for summer 2017.
The Lewisburg location in the former retail store will mark the fourth YMCA in the Valley. Milton, Mifflinburg and Sunbury are the other three.
Jones said about 20,000 square feet of the existing building on the southern side will be demolished to accommodate future expansion of the neighboring Weis Markets store. The lost space will be recovered on the building's northern side with an equal-sized addition to house both a gymnasium and natatorium.
The natatorium will be home to an eight-lane swimming pool and a second warm-water pool for therapy and family use, according to Bonnie McDowell, YMCA chief executive officer.
The YMCA set a goal to provide swimming lessons for all second-graders in the region. The Lewisburg Area School District's swimming program will call the facility home, and McDowell hopes Mifflinburg Area will do the same.
Renovations to the existing space will bring a wellness center with full gymnasium and walking track, multiple group exercise studios for yoga and pilates and cardio activities, a youth center and a daycare. The daycare can accept up to 90 children, McDowell said.
Evangelical Community Hospital, Mid-State Occupational Health and the Union County Area Agency on Aging all will occupy space at the center, she said.
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