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Building What Matters

Rob Reeves, CEO of the Westport Weston Y did his victory dance for Y’s Men on Thursday. With their Zoning Permit in hand, the Y, at long last, broke ground yesterday for Phase One of their new facility on their 32 acre Mahackeno property.

Active fund raisers have gathered all but $4 million of the $38.5 million needed to finance this initial phase, as well as $2.9 million to ease traffic congestion at the Exit 41 interchange. Reeves looks toward opening the new building in November, 2014.

He said the Y seeks to continue to “engender healthy living, encourage youth development and be a beacon of social responsibility.” The new facility only enhances its commitment, and sends this 90 year old Westport institution flying into the 21st century.

And, despite its location, Reeves said the Y will continue as a “center of community life.”

He told the group “the Y today serves 5,500 people, half of whom are youths.” The new facility is designed to serve 8,000 (and the septic system 10,000). Reeves said other Y’s, understandably, have found that with new buildings “numbers go through the roof.”

Reeves noted that the Y already partners with more than 20 agencies, and looks forward to offering more services to attract new partners. At the same time, it provides more than $300,000 in financial aid to assist people and families in need.

Phase One of its new home will be 54,000 square feet, and will include the essential facilities – a large lobby and waiting area; two pools, one of which will have ten 25 yard lanes; a large Health and Wellness center; two gyms and three group fitness studios. It will also have family-friendly areas including a Child Watch gym and five locker rooms. One will be for dependent adults, another for mothers and sons and fathers and daughters.

The 48,000 square foot Phase Two will expand existing spaces and add others that expand the Y’s community service capabilities. Unfortunately, however, in response to a member’s question, Reeves noted that Y’s Men is too large a group to return to its roots.

He showed a short video in which a number of Y members talked about the new facility, starting with the basic “need for a new home,” to calling Mahackeno “the best location,” noting that it affords more usable space in a building far easier for seniors to get around in, to “it is an opportunity for our generation to impact future generations.”

Reeves recognized Allen Raymond for his important role on the project. He will be honored by having Sunny Lane renamed Allen Raymond Lane. He also awarded Raymond a hard hat with his name on it.

Raymond reminded the group that he is 90 years old (a very spry and active 90). He paraphrased Dr. Martin Luther King – “Here at last…” At the groundbreaking he said he was “personally moved… I want it done before I die.”

If there was bad news in the presentation, it was Reeves description of the damage Storm Sandy caused to the current building – the Brophy Pool flooded, drained into the basement, left five feet of water in the child care center, took out power and destroyed their boiler – and its cost. The Trustees were forced to use Y funds to make the entire facility usable. While some programs could be run elsewhere, and obviate the need to rebuild, the Trustees are required to turn over a fully functioning building to the new owner.

Reeves said the Y is now reaching out to smaller donors. They will soon begin selling tiles for $100 each that will in toto form a mosaic depicting the Bedford Building facade and will be mounted in the lobby of the new building.

He closed with a “Call to Action,” and asked everyone to “spread the word, open doors and join us.”

Photos by Larry Untermeyer

Roy Fuchs