There’s a big hole in the ground inside the South Orange Family YMCA, along with a mountain of dirt in its parking lot, all tell-tale signs that the area’s first community pool, part of the Y’s $2.9 million expansion, is closer to becoming a reality.
Officials are cautiously optimistic that pool construction will be completed in February, about five months behind the original timeline of a fall opening.
The delay is for the obvious reason: The COVID-19 pandemic. Y officials broke ground for the pool and related expansion in early March with a traditional shovel and jackhammer ceremony. Unknown to everyone at the time, that was just days before New York began closing down schools, businesses and just about everything else except essential services.
Work resumes in late May
But in late May, officials were able to resume demolition, electric and plumbing work, along with a schedule they hoped would minimally delay project completion.
The project will expand the Monroe facility and add new community programs and services plus a 25-yard, four-lane lap pool, a full-court gym, additional program space for children and a yoga studio.
Officials believe the expanded facility will become a community center which will be the hallmark gathering place of the greater Monroe area for adults, children, senior citizens and groups who are interested in exercise, health and socializing.
“We have a big hole in the ground that’s being reinforced with concrete forms, rebar and plumbing for the pool,” said engineer Tom Olley. “But there’s a lot of parallel work going on as well.”
More than just the pool
Middletown YMCA CEO Ira Besdansky stressed the Y is doing everything it can to keep the project moving forward.
“It’s not just the pool,” he said. “The spaces are defined for the gym, the multi-purpose room and locker rooms. We’ve already completed painting. We’re doing whatever we can to keep this rolling. We’ve been so fortunate to have CCI Construction Management as an incredible partner. They handled pool expansion in Middletown. Our lender, Orange Bank & Trust Co., has been patient and supportive.”
Y Board President Kevin Preston said while pandemic issues may have “paused” the project, the community will be amazed by they see when the construction work is fully complete.
“The big takeaway is that in spite of the pandemic and a lot of obstacles, we are determined to complete the expansion of SOFY because our members and other members of the community have told us, in no uncertain terms, that this is what they want us to do,” said Preston. “It’s been difficult but we believe in the next three to four months it will be complete and we will be able to give the area the expansion Y they’ve asked for.”