The Y of Central Maryland will open its new $11 million center in west Towson Monday, Nov. 11 marking a new beginning for the organization and ending a long-discussed process of upgrading the Towson facility.
"This was a long time coming," said John Hoey, president and CEO. "This Y is about 60 years old, and there have been efforts to build a new Y in Towson since the early to mid-90s. … We've had it as a top priority for a long time. Finally, everything came together."
Hoey said all but 3,000 square feet of the new Towson Family Center Y will open on Veterans Day, with the remaining portion of the building to be completed in the spring after the old building is torn down.
What is completed, Hoey said, is unique compared to other Ys in the area, even those that have been recently built or renovated.
"This is really actually the first Y that we've been able to do that's really had a blank slate," Hoey said. "The whole process, everything we've learned over seven years, everything we've observed as to how people use Ys and how they want to use them and everything we've learned about how to create an optimal member experience has gone into this building."
The 48,000-square-foot building in Towson includes several amenities, including a lobby with a fireplace, a family room for crafts and entertainment purposes, a rock-climbing wall, several exercise and multi-purpose rooms and an 8,000-square-foot fitness center.
It also will feature two saltwater pools: One will be a six-lane lap pool and the other a water park-style family fun pool.
"There's actually been water in the pools for a month now," Hoey said. "They gym floor has been laid, the equipment went in, and you can really see it and sense it. It's been really confirming, and it's really felt as though this is not only what we expected, but it's more than we expected."
Both Hoey and John Holman, community liaison for the Towson Family Center Y Board of Directors, said that buzz has extended to the community. The construction plans were altered to include more landscaping and a softer yellow color on the building to be more congruous with the surrounding neighborhood. The landscaping won't be completed until the spring, but Holman said the community members he's spoken to are "universally supportive of the way the new Y looks."
"It's green, it's environmentally friendly, it solves runoff issues and the lighting is lower and less intrusive," Holman said. "It's just a win for the community in so many ways."
That the construction has been ongoing while the old building has been in use and programming has largely continued uninterrupted was a bonus for all involved, Holman said.
"The members have been absolutely excited about it," he said. "It's been an unexpected pleasure that they could see the Y going up in front of their very eyes. People love that."
With such tangible progress, it's no wonder that membership sales at the Towson Family Center Y have been growing steadily all summer.
"We haven't necessarily promoted membership up until this point," Hoey said. "Over the last three or four months, new membership sales at the Towson Y is breaking records. The community is really excited."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun