After 30 years of offering the same activities and exercise options, the Williams County YMCA is undergoing renovations to be relevant again.
The Bryan facility is being remodeled and expanded slightly to offer modern conveniences and options for current and future members. The $2.7 million project should be complete by the fall, but as soon as some rooms are ready, they will be accessible to membership.
The YMCA is overseen by Rob Imber who said there were a substantial number of needs that had to be addressed by a capital campaign. The Y spent the last 3-½ years planning, researching and conducting surveys before beginning the work, he said.
While the capital campaign was the obvious way to fund the project, the organization took a couple of years to talk to people to figure out what changes were needed.
“What we’re doing now is really the manifestation of that research,” Imber said.
The project includes adding a 6,000-square-foot fitness center on the back of the building. The center will address the need to improving the health of the club’s 3,000 members.
“This is where so many people try to come and meet their health and wellness needs,” Imber said. “The physical plant was just not in a position to do that. The fitness center is going to be almost all new equipment.”
A 1,700-square-foot private wellness studio will be added so the club can offer yoga and Pilates. The Y offered a lot of classes in other activates, but had no space for quality programming, Imber said.
Space off the lobby is being converted into a 1,800-square-feet indoors children’s play center as well. This was a direct result of the surveys and research the Y had done before construction, Imber said.
“In the county, we have tremendous outdoor play opportunities in these beautiful parks,” Imber said. “But for indoor opportunities, for the kids to come and play with their parents and grandparents, people were leaving the county.”
A complete renovation of the locker rooms is included. One new feature will be four family locker rooms where a mom or dad can change their clothes along with their children without having to be exposed to the general population. The new room will have direct access to the pool area, Imber said.
Nearly all of the facility is included in the renovation and the upgrade will be ADA-compliant. When the site was originally constructed, the ADA was still a couple of years away.
“All persons can come to the Y and enjoy it,” Imber said.
A track that encircles the gym on the facility’s second floor will made accessible by elevator so elderly or handicapped members won’t have to navigate the stairs anymore. The wellness studio will be in the mezzanine section by the track, Imber said.
Research showed the club needed a multipurpose area, so an addition is being made adjacent to the pool. It will be known at the Joyce Markey Pool Party room and will be available for parties, he said. “What we saw over the years is so many people come to the Y and they want to have a birthday party and they like to rent a space and invariably want to rent the pool,” Imber said.
But the room used now is one side of the building and the pool on the other and was not convenient. Now it will be next door and the Y will be able to house the party in the same spot, Imber said.
The project’s cost is almost equal to the original construction cost of $3.2 million. A new Y today would cost between $8 million and $10 million, Imber said.
The project will add 6,600 square feet to the original 45,000. The focus is not on adding space, but repurposing what already exists, Imber said.
“How many businesses do you know that could go three decades without changing significantly,” Imber said.
The project is expected to increase membership as the facility’s new format appeals to modern tastes. Membership has been higher in the past when the Y met the needs, Imber said.
While everything will be completed by the fall, Imber expects the party room, children’s center and locker rooms will be open by June or the summer.
The campaign’s success was a result of countywide support, Imber said. This wasn’t just a Bryan event. “It was the entire Williams County community that got behind that,” Imber said. “There were contributions and gifts from every corner of this community. It would not have happened without every community being a part of that.”
The faculty is staffed by 50-60 people and as the program grows, the staff will grow, Imber said. The board keeps membership fees low to encourage more people to join. Scholarships are available as well.