Northwest NEWS

September 24, 2001

Features

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New Family Center for YMCA

by Bronwyn Wilson
   Though dampened by the tragic week, the mood was patriotic and celebratory at the groundbreaking ceremony held at noon on Thursday, Sept. 13 at the Northshore YMCA. One hundred and eighty persons gathered to herald the construction of a new expansion, an 11,437- square-foot Family Center slated for completion January 2002.
   The new facility will allow for more work out space, increased activities for teens and pre-teens, and a central area for family activities.
   In addition, it will offer a Family Center Lobby for people to sit down, talk, socialize or have a snack.
   "I think the key is the Family Lobby. It will be a nice place for families to connect," said Pete Morris, Northshore YMCA group vice-president.
   In the past, Northshore YMCA hasn't had a facility for families to participate in programs together or at the same time separately in a centralized wing.
   The Family Center will also include:
   €A kids corner with outdoor play area;
   €Teen room with computers, games, space for socialization and adult supervision;
   €A new half-gym for basketball, volleyball and fitness classes;
   €An enclosed outdoor courtyard between the buildings with picnic tables and a play structure; and
   € Forty-six additional parking stalls;
   The current 40,000 square-foot Northshore YMCA opened in 1992.Membership has grown an average of 14 percent each year with 17,000 members and program participants in 2001. Said Morris, "We continue to grow as our community grows."
   He said that a decision for a family center evolved through a number of public meetings with community leaders, including YMCA staff and Northshore School District Superintendent, Dr. Karen Forys. "[We wanted] a place where families can come and participate together," said Morris.
   Especially wanted was a space designed to fit the needs of older elementary kids, called "Tweeners."
   "They're too old to be in childcare and not old enough to be with the teens," said Morris, explaining that the new Family Center will have programs for this special age group.
   At the groundbreaking event, members of a senior fitness group called Silver Sneakers led everyone in "God Bless America." Among those singing were state legislators and city representatives from Kenmore, Bothell, Kirkland and Woodinville. There was a moment of prayer for the families of the victims who lost their lives from the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.
   Said Morris, "It was a nice event, but the tone changed a bit with the recent tragedy."
   The ceremony included a "Y" member testimonial, performances by preschoolers and kindergartners and lunch provided by GLY Construction.
   It closed with a tour of the current facility, plus an imaginative tour of the future addition, outlined in balloons to show its exact size, length and location. Sandwich boards, strategically posted inside the balloon outline, stated the name of each room in its future site.
   The total cost of the expansion project is $ 2.1 million. The YMCA of Greater Seattle and Northshore YMCA branch reserves are financing all but $350,000 of the expansion.