The Staunton-Augusta YMCA recently broke ground on a new, 37-acre location earlier this month. The Y will be building a pavilion and two multipurpose fields in Phase One of the development project to house 200 children for their Summer Day Camp.
Then, the Y will develop a youth development center with space for childcare and an indoor sport center. A garden, outdoor sport courts and a walking trail are in the works for the space as well.
Josh Cole, the executive director of the Staunton-Augusta YMCA, said Lewis Creek runs right through the site, so the Y will have an opportunity to develop outdoor education programs and teach youth about ecology. The Staunton-Augusta YMCA recently broke ground on a new, 37-acre location earlier this month. The Y will be building a pavilion and two multipurpose fields in Phase One of the development project to house 200 children for their Summer Day Camp.
Cole said the Y didn’t have a real green space for years, and they were working a couple different avenues when one of their trustees became aware of this property.
“We have a real opportunity here,” said Cole. “We are so fortunate to have a Y that’s at the center of our community, and we are well supported by our staff, members and volunteers. For years, we ran our Summer Day Camps in cooperation with the Staunton City Schools. Even prior to the pandemic, but especially since then, those spaces have been less available. So, we had been looking for space for a while.”
Development Details and Features
Cole said the Y is very fortunate to have a strong teen program that will help make use of the new site. He said Eddie Santiago, the teen director at the Staunton-Augusta YMCA, will be able to nurture even more kids as they learn about the outside world.
“Our community had a significant flooding event a few years ago and we have the opportunity, working with the City of Staunton, Virginia, to do some stream restoration and reduce the flooding potential in future years,” said Cole. “With the Y owning the property since February 2022, you can already see the improved water quality in Lewis Creek. Now, we hope we can help mitigate future flooding events and teach children about taking care of our natural spaces.”
For Phase One of the project, the multipurpose fields are already in and growing grass. Cole said Moffett Paving & Excavating Corp. has done a great job as the father-son duo of Julian and Jay Moffett have been longtime supporters of the Y. He added the Y is about to sign on with a company for the pavilion, and it should be built and ready to go for Summer Day Camp 2024.
The pavilion will have an office, first aid room, cooling room and nine bathrooms. Most of Phase Two will be centered around a new childcare building and the new indoor sport center.
“Our community has a strong basketball tradition that defies the community’s size, so we are looking forward to the sport center re-energizing that tradition,” said Cole. “We are currently going through a feasibility study with DBD Group, a business management consultant, to set the plans for the second phase.”
Hopes and Advice
Cole said the Y’s previous CEO, Morris Peltz, dreamed for years of having open space and the impact the rec center could have on the community. That enthusiasm for the project still reverberates at the Y today.
“This project changed the way our Y thinks about itself,” said Cole. “For years, our primary concern was for programs within our walls. Now, we realize we can positively impact a broader population in our community.”
At the recommendation of the Y’s Board and Trustees, Cole said they put together a construction monitoring task force made up of two board members, two trustees and two volunteer advisors. These individuals meet every other week, sometimes weekly, to keep the project on track and moving forward. He recommended using this strategy when considering new developments.
“They have given us the ability to get things done quickly with multiple voices in on the decisions,” said Cole. “Having them support this project has led to many good decisions and helped us communicate the project to a good portion of the community.”
Cole added the entire process wouldn’t be possible without involving the entire Y staff. Specifically, Candace Martin, the associate executive director, Jeff Collins, the business manager, and the volunteer members of the Construction Monitoring Task Force — Alison Denbigh, Jason Lackey, Maggie Ragon, Paul Vames, Julian Moffett and John Keene — are all instrumental in the project.
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