Middletown is making a push to become one of the healthiest places to live in Delaware.
The YMCA of Delaware announced Tuesday that it is planning to open a facility in Middletown in early 2017. The new 6,400-square-foot YMCA will be located at 400 Cass St. and will be constructed in an existing building at a cost of $250,000.
Currently, the YMCA of Delaware provides only before- and after-school programs in the Appoquinimink School District, but the new Middletown facility will give members access to a state-of-the-art fitness center with cardio machines and weight equipment; a movement studio for a wide variety of classes; a Kids Zone with free babysitting services; youth programs including summer camp, teen leadership activities; and much more.
“This project is a part of our long-term strategic plan to grow our presence in Delaware,” said Deborah Bagatta-Bowles, chief executive officer of the YMCA of Delaware. “Our hope is to be a positive force in Middletown, bring our young people and adults into the Y and cater our services to the needs of the community. We are so pleased to finally be moving forward with our long-term vision for Middletown and the surrounding areas, and we plan to keep pace with the growth in this area.”
Bagatta-Bowles said the population growth and the fact that the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area has been underserved made the decision much easier.
“The YMCA goes where the people are,” she said. “We want to come in and set up a permanent home and initiate our summer camp program, our water programs and expand on our before- and after-school programs.”
While the project was in the mix before Bagatta-Bowles started at the Y three years ago, it was a top priority from the day she started. She said a “very positive” feasibility study, along with surveys sent out to residents in the Middletown area coming back with a higher approval rating than in any area in the past, helped expedite the project.
Bagatta-Bowles said the Cass Street facility, which is in the two spaces adjacent to the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce building, is an investment in the community. The money for the first phase comes out of the YMCA’s operating fund, she said.
Middletown Mayor Kenneth Branner Jr. said that he and other town officials have been in discussions with the YMCA, as well as the Boys & Girls Club, for quite some time.
“Middletown really needs a place to service the youth here,” Branner said. “This is a good first step.”
The mayor said the game plan is for the Y to operate out of the temporary building on Cass Street while discussions about a new YMCA to be built in the coming years take place.
“Middletown supports and anticipates a larger facility in the future,” he said. “There are no plans right now, but we look forward to working with the YMCA to get that done.”
Bagatta-Bowles agreed, saying construction of a $10 million to $12 million facility should be a reality in three to five years. Funds are already being put aside for that future project, she said.
“This is how the Bear-Glasgow branch started,” Bagatta-Bowles said. “We hope to duplicate that in Middletown. The next step in that project is to put together a local board and start fundraising efforts.”
The YMCA of Delaware recently renovated the lobby of its Western Family YMCA branch, while Bagatta-Bowles said plans have been made for the addition of a second floor (16,000 square feet) at the Brandywine branch.
According to Nich.com, Middletown is listed as the 15th healthiest place to live in the state. Middletown and YMCA officials hope to keep that ranking or do even better in the future.
“We are looking forward to welcoming the Y into our MOT community,” said Roxane Ferguson, executive director of the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce in a release. “Middletown continues to attract individuals, families and businesses and is considered one of the healthiest towns in this state, so we believe the Y is a natural fit for our area.”
Contact Jerry Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @JerrySmithTNJ.
October 18, 2016
By Jerry Smith