On Jan. 19, 2011, the Westport Weston Family Y received some great news!
The Stamford Superior Court dismissed the last of the legal challenges brought by neighbors regarding the approval process to build a new Family Y at Camp Mahackeno.
Please click on this link to read more about the favorable ruling and what it means for our new Family Y.
Below are some questions that you may have about the new Family Y, along with answers that provide more detail about our “Building What Matters” capital campaign and the construction plans that we hope will help ensure that our new Family Y will continue to provide Westport and Weston with the many services and programs our communities need.
1. What will happen to the current building complex?
The Family Y has an agreement to sell the current facility to a private developer. The developer is exploring a number of future uses. The Family Y will remain in its current location until the new facility is completed, thereby ensuring that our service to the community will continue uninterrupted. Proceeds from the agreement to sell the building represent a significant portion of the funds that will be necessary to finance the construction of the new Family Y facility.
2. Where do you stand with the fundraising campaign?
We’re most grateful to those who have already invested in our Family Y’s future, and appreciative of the value we received from the agreed-upon sale of our current building. As of April 2011, we are more than halfway to our goal of raising the funds sufficient to build a sustainable new home that will allow us to continue to fulfill our mission.
But our needs remain significant. Creating the new Family Y that we believe our community needs, and deserves, will require the generosity of our community’s philanthropic leaders, as well as the support of equally involved and committed residents, businesses and foundations.
3. So what’s the bottom line? What happens if you can’t raise the money you need?
It’s difficult to provide a “final” cost to the building project, as the final building plans have yet to be developed, and as we continue to evaluate the uses and function of the facility. At the present time, we believe the entire project will cost approximately $49 million; we’ve raised $25 million. We have the resources and confidence in our financial operations to be able to handle reasonable capital debt if necessary.
We are confident that leaders in our community will express their support of our mission and our future by making an investment in our Family Y’s future. That said, and given the inherent uncertainty of economic forces that may be out of our control, we will not proceed with the construction phase of the new Family Y without a degree of certainty that we will have sufficient funds to construct a suitable, financially sustainable facility.
4. But you’ve sold the current building and it’s been reported you need to be out of the building by 2014. Does that mean the Family Y would be without a home?
Yes. It’s hard to imagine our community – Westport and Weston – without a Family Y. But years ago it became clear that the current building was not sustainable financially or in terms of being able to adequately serve the changing needs of our community. Quite simply, we have run out of space, and we are running out of time. The time to build what matters is now.
5. It has also been reported that you might seek a partnership with a local hospital. What does that mean?
As a charitable nonprofit community organization whose mission is to promote healthy living, the Family Y already collaborates with local hospitals and health-care providers on an array of programs and services. We will continue these important initiatives and will consider other collaborations that help our communities and residents combat the serious health issues that affect so many, from childhood obesity to heart disease to arthritis and other ailments common to our senior citizens. Nationally, more than 200 health care / Y collaborations exist.
6. Is there a possibility that the new Family Y will change from the septic system that’s been approved to hooking up to the town’s sewer system?
We are prepared to proceed with the FAST septic system that was carefully considered and which received all the necessary approvals from the regulatory agencies involved. Because the Mahackeno property is above the Town's ''blue line,'' where properties cannot connect to the Town sewer system, connecting the new Y facility would be up to the Town. If the Town believes that’s the right thing to do, the Family Y would be happy to discuss that scenario. We are proud of our history of environmental stewardship of the Mahackeno property and our facilities, and are committed to continuing that tradition. We are ready to build the septic system, we are confident that it will work as designed and we are committed to upholding all of the conditions imposed on us.
7. What’s the timeline for the fundraising campaign and building project?
Following continued success in fulfilling our financial needs, we expect to move to our new Y facility in late 2014. It’s expected that the construction will take 20 to 24 months. Prior to the construction phase for the new facility, we will undertake the traffic mitigation project at the Exit 41 interchange.
8. What changes have been made to the building planned for Mahackeno since the design was first made public?
No changes have been made to the building exterior or siting and size of the building other than minor modifications required by Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission and the Architectural Review Board. We have refined the interior design to meet the current needs of our community and to offer the programming flexibility that will allow us to serve future generations.
To inform the design refinement process, our volunteer directors and trustees donated their time to accompany Family Y staff on visits to other YMCAs that have been recently constructed or renovated to expand facilities, improve program offerings and increase a sense of community. We evaluated and, as appropriate, incorporated into the plan many YMCA standards and best practices as well as development strategies and programming norms for social and recreational facilities of this type. The facility has been designed for optimal use in regard to staffing, energy consumption and maintenance requirements.
Our final programming plan includes the following:
* Aquatics Center (25-yard Lap Pool with 16 lanes; Warm-Water Family, Therapeutic and Teaching Pool)
* Child Care (Classrooms/Offices; Separate Entrance; Adjacent Outdoor Play Area)
* Child Watch (Babysitting)
* Family Adventure Center
* Group Exercise (Cycling included)
* Gymnasium (Basketball; Volleyball; Badminton; etc.)
* Gymnastics Center
* Locker Rooms (Boys; Girls; Family/Special Needs; Men; Women)
* Multi-Purpose/Community Rooms
* Racquet Sports (Racquetball Court; Squash Court)
* Wellness Center (Cardio; Strength; Stretching)
* Tween Center (Interactive equipment for older kids)
* Administrative Offices
9. How will the Y handle traffic at the new location?
Because we recognized from the beginning that traffic is a concern in this town and throughout Fairfield County, the Family Y has worked with both the Town of Westport and the State of Connecticut to develop plans to provide for acceptable traffic flows on the surrounding roads once the new facility is opened at Mahackeno.
The improvements to the roadways and Merritt Parkway/Exit 41 ramps are expected to take 6 to 9 months and will be completed prior to the construction phase for the new facility. The Town of Westport will not be responsible for the funding of the traffic mitigation project.
10. What specific changes will be made to these roadways?
The intersection of the Merritt Parkway’s Exit 41 and State Route 33 is an important interchange for commuters and other traffic in Fairfield County. Both the State DOT and the Transportation Commission have approved the Westport Weston Family Y’s application to modify Exit 41 to improve safety. This project, scheduled to begin by Spring 2012 and to be completed in six to nine months, is intended to help with the traffic mitigation related to the construction of a new Y facility.
In 2010, the Town of Westport Board of Selectmen, acting in its capacity as the Local Traffic Authority, voted unanimously to concur with the State Traffic Commission [STC] recommendations for traffic mitigation. The approved plans will:
* Widen the Merritt Parkway Connector – The existing two-lane Merritt Parkway Connector between the Route 33 intersection and the Merritt Parkway northbound exit/entrance ramps will be reconstructed and expanded to four lanes to provide additional travel lanes to improve traffic flow in both directions.
* Improve Northbound Exit/Entrance Ramps – The Merritt Parkway northbound exit ramp will be reconfigured and expanded to two lanes and “smart” signalization will be added to improve traffic flow management. The northbound entrance ramp also will be enhanced with the new signalization. Both traffic signals on Route 33 at the Exit 41 interchange will be incorporated into this smart signalization.
To facilitate the Exit 41 interchange construction project, the Westport Weston Family Y will deed to the State a 9,765 sq. ft. portion of its Mahackeno Outdoor Center property.
11. How will the new Y facility impact the Mahackeno property and operations of the summer camp?
The new Family Y facility will occupy very little of Mahackeno. Nearly 80% of the 32-acre site will remain unchanged and will be managed as open space for recreational use by our members, with limited public access. Construction will not result in significant loss of trees. Every tree over 8 inches in diameter will be replaced. In total, about 700 trees will be removed and replaced by nearly 500 trees and more than 1,000 shrubs.
During the construction phase of the new facility, because campers are not allowed to access Camp Mahackeno from Rices Lane, it is expected that summer camp at Mahackeno will not be held during the summer of 2013 and 2014.
12. Where do you stand with the legal challenges?
On Jan. 19, 2011, the Stamford Superior Court dismissed the last of the legal challenges brought by neighbors regarding the approval process to build a new Family Y at Camp Mahackeno.
The 36-page decision by Judge A. William Mottolese of the Superior Court was the last of the many approvals that the Family Y needed to move forward with the new Y project. At this point all parties have been heard and the Y has been granted full approval to build our new facility.
13. How can the general public help?
Contact us at: 203.226.8981 email@example.com