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YMCA readies plans for new Middletown site with 3 pools

Councilman Robert Stout: 'I think it’s fabulous the YMCA is investing in the community ... It's going to be a great partnership."

Plans to build a new YMCA in Middletown are moving forward after a second and final approval this week from town council.

The council on Monday unanimously approved a plan for a two-story 67,584-square-foot YMCA building to be constructed at 202 E. Cochran St., where the existing Silver Lake swimming pool is located. 

The pool will continue to be outdoors, and the new building will have two indoor swimming pools, a gym and offices. 

Preliminary site work could start by the end of this year, with groundbreaking in the spring of 2021. The YMCA hopes to occupy the facility by the end of 2022.

This past February, council agreed preliminarily to a plan for the same project. Monday’s approval is final.

Steve Gorski, civil engineer with Duffield Associates, presented the plan before council. 

“We are in the process of finalizing approvals from the town engineer…We have fire marshal’s approval in hand. The [Delaware Department of Transportation’s] approval is not required,” Gorski said. 

Councilman Robert Stout said he’s excited about the project.

“I think it’s fabulous the YMCA is investing in the community by building a new facility in Middletown, and I think it’s going to be a great partnership between the town and the YMCA,” he said. 

He likes all the features the new building will include from “the physical fitness aspect of it to the sense of community that the Y brings to any town.” 

The new building will be constructed in two phases.

“There’s a future expansion that we call phase three that adds another 8,500 square feet to the original footprint,” Gorski said. 

To pay for the project, the YMCA hopes to raise $12 million with the balance of the $26 million project financed.

The YMCA will lease the existing YMCA building at 404 N. Cass St. in Middletown for several more years, but the new building will replace all the activities there. 

The Cass Street property is still in discussion because there is opportunity for different types of satellite programs to operate out of it, project officials told council.

In reponse to a question about how the project would affect traffic on nearby Route 299, Middletown Mayor Ken Branner referred to plans by DelDOT to widen Route 299 from Catherine Street to Route 1 in Middletown.

The design is finished, and  construction is expected to start in September, Branner said. Already there are poles and pipes in place next to the police station. 

In a telephone interview Tuesday,  Deborah Bagatta-Bowles, president of the YMCA of Delaware, said the organization has done many business and feasibility studies of the area over the years and determined a new building is needed.

About three years ago, the nonprofit group opened the facility on North Cass Street with 7,000 square feet and now it’s 9,000 or 10,000 square feet. 

“That little facility is doing great and serving thousands of people and many children and families. So, we know that the need is there for a full facility,” she said. 

According to the plans, Silver Lake Elementary School will be next to the proposed project and both will use Cochran Street. Traffic should not interfere with school pickup and drop‐off times as most of the trips to the YMCA will be before 7 a.m. and after 6 p.m., according to the council minutes in February. 

Other features of the new YMCA:

— Outdoor amenities will include splash pads, playground equipment and a little turf yard.

— Trails will connect to the sidewalk area on the east side of the parking lot to Cochran Street as well as to the trails on the adjacent property.

— Indoor facilities will accommodate community needs for aquatics, health and wellness, and child and youth programs with an emphasis on teen initiatives.

— Plans are to partner with Relay for Life to increase the program and YMCA officials will work with Union Soccer. 

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