New, bigger, better YMCA opens tomorrow Sykesville Road facility has pool, gym, fitness area


WESTMINSTER -- The Carroll County Family YMCA is spreading its wings and moving into its first real home here.

After about 30 years crammed in at various locations in the city, the organization will open the doors of its new Sykesville Road facility at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow.

"We had offices but few facilities for our programs," said David B. Stephenson, executive director. "Now we have it all."

"All" includes a 25-yard, six-lane pool, fitness center, gym and day-care facility, in addition to offices and meeting rooms, all under one roof. The 10-acre site also has a tot lot, a soon-to-be built pavilion for young campers and room for a planned outdoor pool.

The building meets all the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The pool has a ramp suitable for wheelchairs, and all signs are also printed in Braille.

"We even have baby-changing stations in both the men's and women's locker rooms," said Stephenson.

While the staff was settling in and setting up equipment last week, many curious residents dropped in.

"They have been coming in constantly, and many have joined our membership rolls this week," said Sarah Cornett, office manager. "On the weekends, we hear that people have been peeking in the windows to see what the building looks like."

The new 25,000-square-foot facility is bigger, brighter and better-equipped, but its focus on family remains unchanged, said Stephenson.

"We have three major goals," he said. "To keep families close, to help kids succeed in life and to help adults take care of themselves."

The board of directors began a fund-raising campaign in 1985, and groundbreaking took place in April 1991. Extensive market research of 300 area families told organizers the county would support the $3.2 million facility, said Stephenson, who came here in November from the Washington YMCA.

"I was lucky; the fund-raising work was done before I got here," he said with a smile.

Attendance at the county YMCA will be limited to members. Youth, adult and family memberships are available for a one-time $150 initiation fee and yearly dues. The facility can accommodate about 350 families.

"Members are committed to the organization, help in fund-raising and take care of the facility," he said. "We are a non-profit, private group which supports itself."

Yearly dues for a family are $410, in addition to the initiation fee. A "getting-to-know-you" trial membership -- the initiation fee and one month's dues -- is available and fully refundable for any dissatisfied patrons.

Stephenson said that once people see what the YMCA has built here, they will become committed members. He is especially proud of

the fitness center, he said.

"The fitness center is comprehensive, well-rounded and designed for the average person," he said. "Exercise can be intimidating for a lot of people. We are making it fun."

Much of the equipment has room for books and water bottles. The weight machines work on air pressure, "much safer and more fun than free weights," he said. He and Anne Kraybill, senior program director, have developed a 25-minute workout.

"There are no lines. You just come in, turn on the music and do the circuit on about 24 machines," he said. "It's quick, convenient and works on every major muscle group."

The YMCA will have a grand opening from 1 to 3 p.m. June 14. Stephenson said that's only the beginning.

"My three-year vision includes satellite centers all over Carroll County," he said.

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