2009-11-20 / Community

YMCA Will Provide Boost To Peninsula

By Nicholas Briano

The YMCA site at Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 73 Street. The YMCA site at Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 73 Street. The lack of community based programs and activities for children and adults alike has always been one of the major complaints of Rockaway residents from one end of the peninsula to the other.

The Beach 73 Street YMCA, after pushing through the bureaucracy and red tape of most city projects, is finally expected to open its doors sometime in early 2011 and serve the purpose of not only a fitness and aquatic center, but a place for residents to meet, play and work. It will finally give people who live on the peninsula something to do.

YMCA Communications Director Kevin Shermach recently stopped by The Wave to talk about the proposed center and what residents can come to expect.

The much anticipated and at times controversial discussion about the pool size was something Shermach discussed early and often.

"It is not a small pool," he said. "It is a fully equipped aquatic center and the programs are all built on fun and safety."

He added that this particular aquatic center will take up more of the building's total square footage than any other YMCA in the city.

Programs for children start as early as six months and continue through to the adults. Shermach couldn't speculate this early about the membership process, but did say that the YMCA offers a Strong Kids Card program, which guarantees free access to any child under 17 years old.

"Kids are never turned away from the YMCA," he said. "Access for all is important. Everyone is invited to the YMCA. We strive to ensure that we are affordable to the community we serve, and we are committed to providing ample financial assistance for those in need."

Prior to the 2011 opening the YMCA will conduct a community assessment to determine what programs would benefit the Rockaway peninsula.

Shermach did say that he anticipates that water training and safety programs will have a significant presence in this particular ocean community YMCA.

The YMCA is in the earliest stages of construction with the piles currently being driven into the ground to provide a buildable foundation.

The goal, Shermach says, is to have the piles in the ground before it freezes and in early March 2010 start non-stop construction until completion.

Once completed a YMCA of this proposed size typically employs ten to 20 fulltime workers and anywhere from 75 to 100 part-time opportunities for teenagers, adults and senior citizens.

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