At a meeting on Monday, May 14, the volunteer community leaders who comprise the Westport Weston Family Y’s governing Board of Directors and Board of Trustees voted unanimously to continue with plans to build a new home for the Family Y at Mahackeno Outdoor Center.
“Over the past eight weeks we’ve received more than $4.4 million in contributions from over 100 Family Y members and supporters,” said Bonnie Strittmatter, President of the Board of Directors. “That groundswell of community support has given the Boards the confidence to release funds that will keep our building project on track to break ground in the fall.”
“This is momentous news for our Y’s future and for the communities we serve,” said Strittmatter. We’ve passed a significant milestone, and our Boards are optimistic that the progress we’ve made with fundraising will continue until we reach our goal of fully funding the first phase of our building project by the time construction starts.”
The Family Y launched its Building What Matters campaign to fund and construct a new Y in May 2011, following the dismissal of the last legal challenges to its decade-long quest to move from its current downtown building to a modern new Y facility on the 32-acre Mahackeno campus, longtime home of its summer day camp.
On March 19, the Family Y announced the need to make significant progress toward closing a funding gap of $6.2 million. Without sufficient funds in place at that time, the Family Y’s plans to begin construction of the new Y faced an uncertain future.
The Family Y has since received 115 contributions of cash and/or pledges totaling $4.4 million. With these recent gifts, which include $750,000 from two descendants of Family Y Founder Edward T. Bedford, the Family Y has now raised more than $10.6 million toward its building project.
In all, the Family Y has identified $34.1 million in funding, including proceeds from the agreed-upon sale of its current home, built by Mr. Bedford in 1923 and expanded over time. Current estimates for the total cost of the first phase of the new Y are $37.5 million, leaving a funding gap of $3.4 million.
“We’re optimistic that the Boards’ decision to move forward will motivate Y supporters who until now have been in a ‘wait-and-see’ mode toward giving,” said Rob Reeves, Family Y CEO. “Every dollar donated from this point forward makes for a better Y.”
Construction is scheduled to begin this fall on Phase I of the new Family Y, starting with a 54,000 sq. ft. facility that will include a lap pool and warm-water family/teaching pool; expansive Health & Wellness Center; Gymnasium for multiple sports and activities; three large group-fitness studios; a Child Watch/Kids’ Adventure Gym area; and other amenities of a modern, family-oriented Y facility. The new Y is expected to open in November, 2014.
Phase I will be built on a portion of the footprint that has been approved by the Town, with subsequent phases also within that footprint. Upon completion of all construction stages, the Family Y at Mahackeno will comprise 102,000 sq. ft. and will include a Gymnastics Center, Child Care wing and expanded Aquatics and Health & Wellness areas.
"This is a complex project, but our Construction team is working hard to 'value engineer' the building plans to keep costs down without sacrificing quality and program flexibility. And the Fundraising team is working just as hard to make sure that potential donors realize how important their donations are to the success of the project, which is to create a wonderful new center of community life and well-being for generations to come," said Jim Marpe, Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
In other official Board action, the Family Y Trustees voted to issue a Written Notice of Intent to Close on the agreed-upon sale of the Y’s current facility at 59 Post Road East to Bedford Square Associates.
“We look forward to carrying the momentum from these recent leadership gifts to a larger, community-wide fundraising effort,” said Rosemary Halstead, the former Board President who leads the Building What Matters campaign. “Our Y benefits everyone in our community, whether they use the facility or not. “Now is the time for friends and neighbors to come together to help us build something that truly matters – a much-needed new Y that will make our towns a better place to live.”