"It's going to happen. It's one of the coolest things. It's one of the best things that has happened to this community," Mark W. Albiez, executive director of the Lockport YMCA, said Wednesday.
The target date for opening the new building is October 2018.
In September, the YMCA announced that it hoped to reach the $10 million mark in fundraising by the end of 2016. That goal was achieved with a $500,000 donation from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, the YMCA announced.
"It's not the end of our fundraising by any means but it's the trigger that allows us to go forward," Albiez said of the Kenan gift.
Reaching the $10 million target also triggered a merger between the Lockport YMCA and the YMCA Buffalo Niagara. Both organizations' boards of trustees gave final approval to that merger during December, Albiez said. The Buffalo-based organization had made the $10 million target a condition for going forward with the merger.
The new 52,000-square-foot building on Snyder Drive will replace a 91-year-old, three-story facility on East Avenue in the City of Lockport.
“We are confident that a new, centrally located YMCA is a necessary and vital step this organization must take in order to meet the changing and growing needs of the eastern Niagara County community. Not only will a modern day facility help to expand the Y’s outreach and impact, but it will in turn make the Lockport community healthier and stronger,” said Douglas C. Zinn, executive director of the Kenan Charitable Trust.
There had been long-range planning for the Lockport YMCA's future as long ago as 1990, when Albiez joined the YMCA, and a strategic plan was drawn up in 1997 calling for a new facility. The YMCA bought 31 acres of open land on Snyder Drive in 2001. The fundraising campaign began in 2006.
"Five years of it was a hiatus, from 2009 to 2014, when the market went down," Albiez said. "We lost a lot of our endowment."
Bob Stark of CJS Architects in Buffalo is the lead designer. Albiez said no rendering is available yet for the 52,000-square-foot building, but it's likely to look similar to the Independent Health Family Branch YMCA on Tech Drive in Williamsville, near the Erie Community College North Campus.
The Town of Lockport has an old contract that called for the town to pay to pave the parking lot at the new YMCA, in exchange for preferential scheduling and use for town residents and activities. The Town Board voted in September to apply for a $500,000 state grant, aimed at rewarding municipalities that cooperate with not-for-profit groups.
However, town Economic Development Director Marc R. Smith said Wednesday that by the time the town sought the money, the available funds for the year already had been committed, so another application is expected to be sent during 2017.
Smith said there still need to be talks with the YMCA about what services the group would like the town to provide.
In addition to funding the new building, the Kenan Charitable Trust gave the YMCA $505,000 toward an erosion control project at Camp Kenan, the YMCA summer camp on the Lake Ontario shore in Somerset, Albiez said.
Albiez said the camp has 2,000 feet of shoreline, but some of it has been washing away. He said the goal is to have erosion control measures completed by June 2018.
Reported from The Buffalo News