With phase one of the Central Lincoln County YMCA’s expansion project in progress, the organization’s leadership continues to raise funds and build community relationships that will help sustain the Y through the next part of its master facility plan, including the long-awaited pool.
The Damariscotta-based CLC YMCA, which serves 10 area towns, broke ground on phase one of its planned expansion earlier this summer, marking the beginning of its implementation of the master facility plan unveiled to a crowd of 125 people almost two years ago.
“It’s very exciting, but this is just the beginning,” said Meagan Hamblett, CLC YMCA CEO.
The first phase includes the construction of a new entrance and lobby, a new fitness room, locker rooms, and mechanical/utility space, along with other, “less sexy” behind-the-scenes work, Hamblett said.
Once the new locker rooms are complete and ready to use, the space of the current locker rooms will be converted into the Kids’ Zone. Other exciting updates in phase one include the addition of the Healthy Living Center, a teaching kitchen, and an elevated track.
However, Hamblett said she knows the question that has been on many people’s minds since long before the master facility plan was released: “What about the pool?”
In March 2011, the CLC Y officially launched a $1.2 million capital campaign for the construction of a swimming pool. At the time, the plan called for a four-lane, 25-meter standard-length pool, with new locker rooms for men, women, and families.
The price tag also included repairs and the expansion of the parking lot, replacing a water line from the early 1900s, joining the Great Salt Bay Sanitary District for sewer, and bringing the building up to code with the addition of a fire sprinkler system.
Three years later, after the departure of CEO Craig Wilson, the Y received a substantial gift, totaling close to $2 million, from the estate of Josephine Merritt, a Boothbay woman who passed away June 18, 2014.
A few months after receiving the bequest, the Y announced a new estimate for an aquatics center in November 2014. The estimated cost of the aquatics center, including a therapy pool, ranged from $5,264,000 to $5,564,000.
When Hamblett joined the CLC Y as its new CEO in November 2014, the organization pressed pause on its fundraising to develop a new master plan focusing on the sustainability of the Y beyond the addition of a pool.
“We took a step back and asked what would be best for the Y and the community for the long term,” Hamblett said. “For a while, the focus had just been on the pool, but we needed to take a broader look at the facility as a whole, not just for right now, but for the future as well.”
The Y unveiled its new master facility plan to the community on Aug. 12, 2015. In addition to a mixed-use therapy pool and lap pool, the plan called for upgrades to the locker rooms and wellness center, a complete overhaul of the building’s welcome center, the addition of a community kitchen and children’s play area, and the relocation of the walking track above the basketball courts.
The upgraded plans resulted in an increased price, estimated at the time to be between $8.4 million and $9.39 million. In addition to resuming fundraising, the Y leadership reached out to every person who donated more than $1,000 to the pool over the past 25 years to see if the funds could be reallocated to the master facility plan as a whole. Approximately 98 percent of donors, including the $2 million estate bequest, gave the green light for the fund reallocation, giving the capital campaign a good starting point, Hamblett said.
The full project was then broken into two parts. The first phase would focus on the renovation of the existing facility and a new entrance, while the aquatic facility would be the second phase. By phasing the project, the Y is able to split the cost and get part of the project underway.
The first phase of the project costs $6.5 million. Since unveiling the master facility plan almost two years ago, the Y has raised an additional $3.3 million, bringing its total available funds to $5.4 million. On July 18, Coastal Enterprises Inc., of Brunswick, announced the closure of a $2,460,000 loan to the CLC YMCA, effectively closing the funding gap for phase one, Hamblett said. The YMCA’s existing debt was rolled into the funds from CEI.
The loan uses financing from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Relending Program with up to $100 million guaranteed by Bank of America. CEI received $20 million to loan to organizations to strengthen rural and low-income communities in Maine and other states. The CLC YMCA loan is the first administration of CEI’s funds.
“Without CEI, we would not have been able to put a shovel in the ground yet,” Hamblett said.
In order to receive the funds from CEI, the Y had to prove its long-term sustainability, which meant taking a look at how to pay for the pool’s continual maintenance and upkeep. Typically, a YMCA “loses” approximately $120,000 to $150,000 on a pool per year, Hamblett said, funds that need to be made up elsewhere.
“At the end of the year, we’re typically right on budget and don’t have that kind of leftover funding,” Hamblett said.
The CLC Y will help to curb some of those costs with its planned upgrades to the facility’s water and sewer systems, along with other efficiency improvements. The organization is also considering potentially adding a solar array on its roof, an idea that is still in preliminary stages, Hamblett said.
While the Y is incurring the cost in phase one, completing the upgrades now will give the organization a better footing as it moves forward with the next phase, including the aquatic center, Hamblett said.
With phase one completely funded and construction underway, the Y continues to fundraise for the second phase, which has an estimated cost of $3 million, and future endeavors as its membership continues to grow. In order to raise the funds and complete the project without lingering debt, the Y will continue to rely on community members and local businesses for support, Hamblett said.
One of the driving focuses as fundraising continues is for the Y to incur as little debt as possible by the project’s completion.
“When we talk about sustainability and the future of the Y, our whole goal is to come away debt-free,” Hamblett said.