Clark County YMCA ready to grow

Extensive remodel to begin in spring, continue in phases

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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Construction will begin this spring on the Clark County Family YMCA's remodel, which was partially paid for by a state economic stimulus plan, the organization's executive director said Monday.

A new six-lane swimming pool, an elevated indoor track, children's locker rooms, a teen center and more space for child supervision services are just some of the new features the facility will boast after construction concludes next year. The remodel is expected to boost employment equal to adding 25 full-time construction jobs; once the remodel is complete, the YMCA can hire the equivalent of 7.5 full-time employees.

When the original building was constructed in 2000, facility officials didn't include all they wanted to because of funding constraints. It had a kidney-shaped pool, but it did not have a pool designed specifically for lap swimming.

"When we were originally built, we wanted to have a lap pool," said Eddie White, executive director of the Clark County Family YMCA. He added that the remodel will "fill in some of the gaps that we have in service right now."

Construction on a new back patio will begin in April, construction on the new pool will follow one to two months later, and the gym remodel and indoor track construction will start in July, White said.

At the tail end of the 2012 Washington legislative session, state lawmakers granted the facility $1.5 million to go toward its remodel. The money was part of a number of job-creation investments made with money from the state's capital budget.

That $1.5 million is just a chunk of the money needed for the YMCA project.

"So far to date, we've raised $5.6 million of the $8.2 million that we need to finish the project," White said. He said the YMCA is on track to raising the remaining $2.6 million.

The remodel will expand the square footage of the facility from roughly 45,000 to 60,000. The construction is not expected to disrupt services, because it will be done in phases, White said.

"We were built with the assumption that we were going to expand and have a six lane lap pool," White said, so a lot of the plumbing is already in place.

The six-lane lap pool will be built in the lawn area adjacent to the existing pool. The new pool will be a few degrees cooler than the current pool, and it will be enclosed by glass windows, same as the current pool.

Having two pools with different purposes will help the facility expand its swimming programs, including more water exercise classes, swimming lessons and practice space for local swim teams.

The outdoor concrete patio area behind the gym will become an enclosed play area with new flooring and a large doorway that can be opened during warmer weather. White said he envisions the space being used for group gatherings, such as birthday parties. It will also have a kitchen and media and television area.

The Clark County YMCA gives out about $500,000 a year in membership scholarships for people with lower incomes. It also partners with 26 Clark County elementary schools to provide an array of after-school programs that reach about 900 children.

Each year, more than 10,000 Clark County residents access the YMCA facility, according to the Clark County Family YMCA.

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523 or www.facebook.com/reportermathieu or www.twitter.com/col_politics or stevie.mathieu@columbian.com