More room to play at YMCA

Expansion, new features on display at grand reopening

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By the numbers

8 million: Dollars spent on renovations.

22: Date in June 2013 that crews broke ground on the expansion.

26: Date in April 2014 for the grand reopening.

45,000: Square feet in old facility.

60,000: Square feet in the expanded facility.

2: Pools in the reopened facility -- one 88-degree, zero-depth entry pool with Jacuzzi jets and a waterfall; and one six-lane lap pool.

2: Gyms in the reopened facility, with three wood-floored basketball courts and one volleyball court.

4: Group exercise studios in the reopened facility, with one dedicated to quiet activities, such as yoga.

5: Locker rooms in the reopened facility -- one each for men, women, boys, girls and family.

1: Of each in the reopened facility -- a youth center, child care center, massage studio, indoor track, community meeting room and conference room.

By the numbers

8 million: Dollars spent on renovations.

22: Date in June 2013 that crews broke ground on the expansion.

26: Date in April 2014 for the grand reopening.

45,000: Square feet in old facility.

60,000: Square feet in the expanded facility.

2: Pools in the reopened facility — one 88-degree, zero-depth entry pool with Jacuzzi jets and a waterfall; and one six-lane lap pool.

2: Gyms in the reopened facility, with three wood-floored basketball courts and one volleyball court.

4: Group exercise studios in the reopened facility, with one dedicated to quiet activities, such as yoga.

5: Locker rooms in the reopened facility — one each for men, women, boys, girls and family.

1: Of each in the reopened facility — a youth center, child care center, massage studio, indoor track, community meeting room and conference room.

Jake Sowder danced and waved at about 20 other kids as they frolicked beyond the glass window in the Clark County Family YMCA’s newly reopened recreational pool.

The 3-year-old came to the center’s grand reopening Saturday morning with his grandmother, Jenny Sowder, to explore the new features after a one-year, $8 million upgrade.

“That looks like the river,” Josh said, pointing out the rippling pool water near a big yellow umbrella-like water feature.

Jenny Sowder, who has three grown children and four grandchildren, said she’s been coming to the Orchards-area center at 11324 N.E. 51st Circle for years.

“It’s substantially changed and just beautifully done,” she said. “Today we’re just here to play, but tomorrow, if it rains, maybe we’ll be back to check out the pool.”

The celebration and grand reopening kicked off with speeches and a ribbon cutting, followed by a day chock-full of kids activities.

About 50 people attended the parking lot ribbon cutting, but several kids stayed inside to play in the pool or in the new rec rooms during the ceremony.

“That pool looks like a maze,” 6-year-old Chase Riley said after tossing some bean bags in a rec room game.

The rec pool has a curved ramp leading in that looked very inviting to young Chase, who was visiting with his little sister Chloe and their grandparents.

“We just drove by and saw everything and decided to stop by,” said Marla Riley, Chase’s grandmother. “The pools look great.”

The center now has two pools, two gyms, four group exercise studios, five locker rooms, a youth center, a child care center, a massage studio, an elevated indoor track, a community meeting room and a conference room.

Work began in April 2013 and is mostly complete, although workers are still installing the wood gymnasium floors.

The gym and remaining work should be finished by mid-May, said Eddie White, the facility’s executive director.

The project expanded the center from 45,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet and included several upgrades in facilities and equipment.

The money came from a $1.5 million economic stimulus grant in 2012 from the Washington Legislature, a $3 million grant from the New Markets Tax Credit for low-income communities, $500,000 from the Rick and Carol Terrell Charitable Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, a $250,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, and other grants and private donations, White said.

“We still need about $1.8 million, but our efforts are moving along,” White said.

The original building had one kidney-shaped pool and no pool for lap swimming.

Visitors commented throughout the day on how much they appreciated the upgrades.

“I’m so glad we have something like this,” said C.J. Monroe, an ambassador with the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a very nice facility. I think it’s great. I work with a lot of seniors. They love coming here. It’s very, very safe.”

In another part of the upgrade, workers enclosed and covered an outdoor patio area, which now serves as a meeting room and basketball court.

“The idea is to make it a family place,” White said. “People work all day, the kids are at school. We want to make it a fun place to come, where the kids want to be here, you want to be here. The idea is to be a place where people can come together as a family.”

Brandon Berg, pastor at Rhapsody Church, which rents space from the YMCA, said his group was also thrilled at the upgrades.

Church members often volunteer at the facility and also use it, he said.

“For Rhapsody, this is more than just a rental situation, it’s a community,” he told the crowd at the ribbon-cutting.

The Clark County Family YMCA is a branch of the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette, which serves northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Each year, more than 10,000 Clark County residents use the Vancouver facility, White said.

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

For young Jake though, tugging on his grandmother’s arm, the most important thing remains the recreational pool.

“I just like playing with balls (in the water),” Jake said, looking eagerly at Grandma Sowder.