2013-01-18 / Columnists

New Kid On The Boardwalk

Two Branches, Bowed But Unbroken
By Jack Lund, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York

First, I want to wish everyone in the Rockaway community the happiest and healthiest of New Year’s on behalf of the entire YMCA family, and all good things in 2013. Having toured the Rockaways and Coney Island and our other communities since the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I can personally attest to how inspiring it is to see both of these beachfront communities pull through together. That is one of the great meanings of the holiday season and a spirit of generosity that sustains people year-round.

This is my first column of the New Year and I’d like to take the opportunity to provide a detailed update on the progress we’ve made on the Rockaway YMCA at Arverne by the Sea branch, describe some of the damage the construction site sustained during Hurricane Sandy, and detail how that has affected our timeline for opening.

First, please know that our great City’s experience during Hurricane Sandy has left the YMCA of Greater New York more committed than ever to the imminent opening of our new branches in the Rockaways and Coney Island. Second, we are happy to report that while the Rockaways construction site did sustain some damage, it was perhaps less significant than might have been expected. The branch, originally due to be completed in June, now looks to open sometime during the fall of 2013. Among the myriad ways in which the facility will immediately declare itself a community fixture, the Rockaway YMCA at Arverne by the Sea branch promises to become a significant local employer and we are likely to begin accepting job applications toward the end of this summer.

So, how bad was the damage? Some equipment that was affected due to saltwater needs to be reordered and refabricated. Specifically, pool pumps, gas boiler, and several electrical panels, switch gears, and circuit breakers need to be replaced. Our lead developer/ contractor has performed a thorough survey of the site, cataloguing what has been lost, damaged, and need to be replaced, and that report is currently being vetted by our insurance company. In terms of how our construction plans might change in light of this historic storm, our building plans were originally designed for higher elevation for increased preparedness against extreme weather conditions. We also will be using steel hurricane doors for the basement rather than standard hollow metal doors.

Our sister branch in Coney Island was also impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and sustained slightly more significant damage. Facility elevators were completely immersed in about six feet of saltwater, with the storefront and Kalwall system also submerged, and the pool filtration room was compromised, necessitating the replacement of pool pumps. Fortunately, similar to the Rockaways branch, the damage has not stalled our progress much: originally due to be completed in April 2013, the Coney Island branch also looks forward to opening its doors sometime in late fall 2013.

Once completed, the Rockaways YMCA at Arverne by the Sea branch is expected to serve thousands of local children and families each year. The 44,000 square foot facility will include a parking lot, outdoor multipurpose sports field, 5,300 square foot Wellness Center, 8,300 square foot aquatics center with lap and family pools, and a 6,500 square foot gymnasium.

We look forward to become an integral part of both of these historic New York City beachfront neighborhoods. The Y strengthens the foundations of community and we are eager to open our doors to start teaching people to swim, to provide quality after school programs, to help people learn how to prevent developing type II diabetes, and to help usher a new generation of young people from college onto vibrant professional paths. Most important, we are looking forward to forging new friendships and bonds, the kind of unbreakable connections that even the most powerful storm cannot breach.

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