Y seeks to raise the remaining 24 percent of funds needed; January 2011 opening on target, By Nancy Kriz MONROE - The new South Orange YMCA in Monroe is closer to reality, with officials launching a $625,000 capital campaign last night at the Captain’s Table in Monroe to raise the balance of funds needed for the facility. The 23,000-square-foot building, according to Ira Besdansky, the Y’s chief executive officer, is on target for a mid-January 2011 opening. The new center is located on Gilbert Street Extension off of Route 208 in the warehouse complex occupied by Inspire and K&M Newspaper Services. The corporate offices of Straus News, now in Chester, were once based there. Officials said earlier this year the location was based on financial incentives offered by K&M Newspapers as well as its proximity to Route 17, Route 208, Route 17M, the Heritage Trail and the two ponds in the center of the Village of Monroe. But the Y is not new to the surrounding area. Already, the Y provides onsite before-school and after-school care for the Monroe-Woodbury School District and offers local bus transportation to its Harriman State Park camp. Friend raiser’ At the Captain’s Table last night, officials spoke about the Y’s plans and forthcoming community programs and services to approximately 100 guests. Serving as capital campaign co-chairs are Tom Sullivan, president/owner of Smith, Seaman and Quackenbush Funeral Home in Monroe; and Tom Kennedy, general sales manager with Dana Distributors in Goshen. Besdansky said last evening’s event was not a solicitation for funds; rather it was intended to be a “friend raiser.” “We hope that the people who come out on Thursday are excited about what we’re trying to do,” said Besdansky. “It’s not about the organization; it’s about the services. If people get passionate about that, we’ll ask them to host informal gatherings at their homes. This is a super awareness event to try to inspire other people to get actively involved in the campaign.” Large and small donations The $625,000 is the remaining 24 percent needed in the $2.59 million project. Already, Y officials have secured a 10-year, $1.25 million construction loan; and are using $500,000 in investment reserves as well as $213,000 in net income from the Middletown YMCA. “The board has taken an incredible leap of faith,” said Besdansky. “They’ve got $1.5 million at stake. The construction has started. We’ve obligated ourselves to be there in the long-run. The timeline began Thursday. The goal is not to achieve, but surpass our goal by the middle of January.” Already, 18 percent, or $100,025, of the goal has been reached. Officials announced the total gifts thus far are from two donors: one for $100,000; and a second for $25. No pool yet Phase I of the new, two story facility will include a youth activity center; an aerobics studio for group exercise programs like Pilates and Zumba; a half-court gymnasium; a weight training room; a room for bicycle spinning classes; a wellness center and community garden. There will also be locker rooms, including a family bath area; a child watch-babysitting room; and an upstairs multi-purpose community room/meeting space as well as a range of exercise, lifestyle and safety classes. Residents in Blooming Grove, Chester, Monroe and surrounding areas who still seek community swimming facilities should know there are no immediate plans for a pool at the Y. Besdansky didn’t discount a future pool but stressed “a pool is a Phase II dream that’s contingent upon the success of Phase I. I hope we do well in the community. We’ll listen to what the community wants, and we’ll plan to react.” The new Y will also bring 40 to 50 new part-time jobs to the area, added Besdansky, with recruitment for those positions planned for mid-December. “As soon as Verticon turns over the keys to us, we want to be operational the next day,” he said. “As the project builds, we will continue to add to the workforce.” As construction moves forward and the facility begins to take on a more identifiable shape, Besdansky said the Y will offer guided tours to give the community a better idea of what to expect. “We want everything there to bring families together,” added Besdansky. “We encourage family interaction. There are benefits to that, other than the obvious physical (fitness) benefits, that are immense.”
Arriving January 2011: South Orange Y programs Youth and teen recreation Youth center with computers, games and more. Specialized programs in art, dance and music. Kids Night Out: Friday evenings for 6- to 12-year-olds. Teen Night Out: Saturday evenings for ages 13 to 17. School vacation camps: held during school breaks for children aged 6 to 12. Family nights: for all ages. Youth and teen fitness Sportwall, “dance dance” revolution and other “Xergames” for youth members. Family fitness area with age appropriate equipment for Wellness Center. Programs for gymnastics, Zumba, cycling, etc., for children and teens. Various sports-specific leagues, training and conditioning. Group exercise Aerobics, Zumba, Y-Pump and other specialized classes. Variety of cycling classes with instructors and self-led tours Yoga, pilates, t’ai chi and other “spirit-mind-body” classes. Base Camp’ Designated exercise area with customized programs designed to support youth and adults who are new to fitness or returning to exercise. Health clinics, lectures, workshop and community meetings for local groups.