YMCA celebrates arrival of nearly $4M grant

Renovations ongoing at new site on Tices Lane


Staff Writer

EAST BRUNSWICK — Those using the new Raritan Valley YMCA facility will owe a big thank you to the state.

The facility, which is still under construction at 144 Tices Lane, will be funded with the help of a $3.9 million state grant acquired through the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA). The grant will help defray the estimated $8.5-million cost of the new facility.

State Sen. Barbara Buono (D-18) and CRDA Executive Director Curtis Bashaw presented the check to the YMCA at a recent ceremony. The Y is currently located on Dunhams Corner Road, a site that has been deemed too small and antiquated to keep up with membership and modern needs.

The check was presented in December to YMCA Board of Directors and Ron Fournier, who was executive director of the Y until his retirement last week. The grant augments the $5.6 million the YMCA has already raised for the project, the group said.

The facility will be much larger than the current 4,000-square-foot building on Dunhams Corner Road. Built in the 1930s, the current site cannot accommodate the group’s 2,000-plus participants. The YMCA garnered some money for the new facility by selling its Dunhams Corner Road property to developer Marshall Weinerman, who will build single-family homes there.

The child-care program will be greatly expanded at the new facility, Fournier said in a late-December interview. In fact, the YMCA would have three preschool classrooms instead of just one. It will also have an infant/toddler program for the first time.

The YMCA serves about 15 communities. Offering all services in one location make it convenient for residents, he said.

The expansion, he said, is not so much the result of an increasing population as it is “about the need to serve the community that exists.”

The YMCA is looking to double its membership in the first year of the new facility, and eventually have as many as 10,000 members, Fournier said.

Fournier said the YMCA applied for the grant and was able to secure it thanks to Buono’s help. He felt the YMCA’s far-reaching membership was a reason the state awarded the money.

“This funding by CRDA to build a state-of-the-art facility for the Raritan Valley YMCA will help thousands of families throughout the area,” Buono said. “It’s great to see this use of casino-generated revenues helping communities lead healthy lives. I was proud to support this project, which will advance wellness for children, adults and seniors.”

The new facility is slated to have a six-lane pool, a therapy instruction pool and a new gymnasium. It will also house a cardiovascular-conditioning and weight-training area, an aerobic/dance studio, a child care center, and multi-purpose and locker/shower rooms. Fournier said the multi-purpose rooms could be used by community groups.

The YMCA’s function is to provide programs and services to meet community needs. The YMCA also offers a summer camp, swim programs, fitness/exercise programs and sports instruction.

The renovation of the building on Tices Lane is now slated to be finished by the end of 2005, while the entire expansion project should be completed in 2006. The facility will comprise about 60,000 square feet, including a second story, Fournier said.