By Nancy Kriz MONROE — It's getting closer and closer to the time where South Orange Family YMCA staff can say, "Everybody in the pool," now that over a half million dollars have been raised for two pools and increased space at the facility. The $505,000 of the $600,000 is about 85 percent of what's needed to advance the project, said Y Branch Executive Director Ross Miceli. The $600,000 is part of the Y's $2.2 million expansion project. A forever projectMiceli said government, civic and business leaders tell him the current $505,000 is the largest amount raised to date by the Monroe community for any project. "This is history that we're making right now," he said. "We're in the home stretch, so close to the finish line. We truly believe there are people and businesses who will be our remaining large and small donors and get us the $95,000 we need. Someday, they will bring their children to the Y and say, 'I helped to make this happen.' And their children will tell their grandchildren what they've done. This is a forever project." The first pool will be a 25-yard, four lane lap pool, with another pool adjacent to it to be used for swim lessons, water exercise classes and family swim times. It will allow for concurrent programming to meet multiple needs and interests, Miceli said. In addition to the pools, the Y plans to build a full court gym - something members and the community have been asking for - in addition to new spaces dedicated for teens, seniors and overall community use. 'This community need a pool'The Y opened in 2011 and its membership is just under 10,000 people. Since its opening, additional growth continues in existing and new exercise and health-related classes as well as sports offerings for adults and children. "Community members and businesses are supporting the Y because they understand how we change lives and the positive impact we make in the community every day," said Miceli. "We touch thousands of lives every year, whether it's through our many community events, Y programs and classes and more. We fill a critical gap that schools and communities can't due to staffing or finances. We've said this, and people who live in Monroe and the surrounding areas also say this: This community needs a pool. It's really difficult for municipalities to build pools today. We are the one organization that can make this a reality. We will make that happen when we reach our $600,000 fund raising goal." Miceli feels raising the remaining $95,000 is completely doable."There are a lot of generous people who, if they do a small part, will make all the difference," said Miceli. "We will have a pool forever and additional space for the community to use."Anticipating swimmies and lessonsMiceli said Y staff will visit any home or office to talk about expansion and pool plans, and he welcomed anyone wanting to host a "puzzle party" to learn about the campaign. "We need to get this last amount of money and we believe we will, " he said, adding lightheartedly, "We can already visualize the 'swimmies,' noodles and goggles in the water."But on a more serious note, Miceli said: "We can't wait to see the swim lessons and races taking place. We look forward to special swim classes for children, adults and seniors. We're looking forward to partnering with community groups. Aquatics offers such great health benefits in addition to huge social interaction opportunities. The pools will help make this community an even greater place. Help us to make this happen."