by MOSES LESO III
When it comes to local growth, few places show the need for expansion as much as the Hays YMCA.
Later this month, the Hays Communities branch of the YMCA will complete Phase One of a multi-phase initiative to expand the current site in Buda, in order to accommodate a bustling community.
The YMCA is located close to Dahlstrom Middle School, among the area’s fast growing subdivisions.
According to YMCA Executive Director Bret Kiester, the expansion is necessary, as the current 30,000-square-foot site is simply too small for the number of members.
The national average of 7.9 square feet per member for such a facility swamps Hays’ approximate 3.4 square feet per YMCA member.
“It is a great problem to have,” said Kiester, who said membership within the Hays YMCA continues to grow since the site opened in April 2007. Currently, the Hays YMCA serves more than 8,900 members, as well as 450 non-members participating in youth sports and aquatic programs from all over the Austin Metro area.
The 17,000-square-foot addition includes multi-purpose space and changes to the existing area, according to Kiester.
The cost for the expansion is projected to be close to $800,000 when completed, which will be funded by the YMCA of Austin, said Jim Pacey, Vice President of Development at the YMCA of Austin. “This will meet the needs of the growing community,” Pacey said.
In the first phase of the expansion project, the Hays YMCA will renovate 4,224 square feet of existing space, with 2,000 square feet for a high impact group exercise multi-purpose room, 1,800 square feet allotted for weight room space and 424 square feet for storage and one unisex bathroom. Their hope is to have this ready for use by April.
“This expansion allows us to serve people in new ways,” said Kiester, who has worked hand-in-hand with the community during his five years with the Hays YMCA.
Kiester helped raise $79,000 through the YMCA of Austin’s Partner of Youth annual giving campaign in 2012. Partner of Youth provides funding for children who are unable to enter YMCA programs due to cost. The Hays YMCA donated more than $150,000 in 2012, with Kiester saying, “For every dollar we get, we give two dollars back to the community.”
Recently, the Hays YMCA has partnered with Hays CISD to promote Project SAFE (Safety, Aquatics & Physical Education), which is a YMCA initiative to raise awareness on general safety, provide free swimming lessons, as well as battle the issue of obesity in children. Currently, the Hays Project SAFE program assists 800 youths within the Hays CISD, primarily with first grade students.
For Kiester, the project’s completion will aid in the YMCA’s goal of promoting well-being in families. “This allows us to serve our community a little better,” he said.
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