Building a better Mystic Y
Through name changes, expansions and years of experience, the Ocean Community YMCA grew to become a well-entrenched and justifiably respected southeastern Connecticut institution. Dedicated to promoting physical fitness and fostering a sense of community, and with myriad of programs serving all ages, there’s a lot to like about the YMCA.
Now, YMCA officials are proposing a renovation and expansion project for the Mystic branch, which is located on highly coveted waterfront real estate near Masons Island. The project, if it garners the necessary regulatory approvals, will transform the facility from a tired and worn looking gym and community center to a wow-inducing, state-of-the-art fitness center. This $7.2 million project for which the Y is currently fundraising, deserves support.
YMCA officials say they hope to break ground on the ambitious project some time in 2016. A portion of the current building will be demolished and a 12,500-square-foot addition built. Parking will be expanded. Handicapped access will be improved. New locker rooms will be built. A childcare center will be incorporated.
The building plans also call for taking more advantage of the Y’s dramatic location. Extensive use of glass will allow members to exercise while enjoying commanding views of the Mystic River.
The Y already has proved its ability to successfully navigate an uber-complex building project. The recent thorough makeover of the Ocean Community YMCA’s oldest branch in downtown Westerly, a building that dates to 1928, proceeded efficiently and produced stunning results while keeping the building largely in architectural harmony with the historic downtown neighborhood.
In Mystic, Y officials are taking a similarly thorough and responsive approach to plans to renovate the former Mystic Community building acquired in 2003. Y folks are conversing with neighbors who have opposed plans for other nearby development proposals. They also recently temporarily withdrew plans slated for an October public hearing on a special permit request after a meeting with town officials raised concerns about flood plain compliance.
Better to delay the process slightly now to better ensure the project’s success in the long run. We are confident the YMCA will successful smooth out these wrinkles and ultimately will construct a local showcase landmark that is both functional and beautiful.
The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.
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