YMCA plans unveiled

On Monday, the Big Tree Inn hosted a presentation introducing a conceptual study of a shared-use facility that was conducted by Geneseo and the Genesee/Wyoming County YMCA.

The idea, which was originally developed by the college three years ago, involves the construction of a full-facility YMCA on campus with an additional field house that would be made available for use by students, faculty, staff and the local community.

Ken Levison, vice president for administration and finance, began the presentation by defining an abstract study as "an attempt to take a vision and see how it can be done and if it can be done." The design study was initiated and paid for by the college. The results were used to estimate an appropriate size for the building as well as what associated costs and services will be provided.

Jeff Roloson, an architect from LaBella Associates, presented the company's study. After sampling the demographics from Livingston County, as well as the surrounding 10-mile radius and hosting discussions with potential users, LaBella estimated a membership of over 10,000 people. Roloson said that the building would be between 50,000 and 55,000 square feet to accommodate that level of use.

The YMCA will eventually be built next to the Merritt Athletic Center with direct access to and from Route 63. The building would potentially include a main entryway, four locker rooms, a multi-use divisional gym, an aquatics center comprised of three pools, fitness studios, a wellness center, a child watch and "tween" center and a senior and teen area.

The accompanying field house would serve as a "link between the Y programs and the college side," Roloson said. This building would house a 200-meter indoor track, several indoor courts and visiting team locker rooms, and would serve as a multi-purpose facility that could be used for conferences and other activities.

Wess Audsley, CEO of the Genesee/Wyoming YMCA, said that the shared-use facility is part of the company's regional expansion project. He said that the YMCA's mission is, "To establish a locally-driven YMCA branch organization and facility that provides access to programs and service to people who live, work, and study in Livingston County."

President Christopher Dahl expanded upon the benefits that having a YMCA on campus would bring to the college.

"Our students will not only be able to participate in health and wellness programs," Dahl said, "but it also provides student employment opportunities … internships for our students … the possibility for day care facilities … and expand[s] the use of our facilities, especially in the summer."

The $30 million project has been designated the second priority of the college's Capital Strategic Initiative Plan - the first being the funding necessary to fully refurbish Doty field. The YMCA, which is responsible for outfitting the building and perpetuating use, is obligated to pay $3 to $4 million of the project. This share of the funding will be raised through endowments.

YMCA membership for students would be included within the mandatory student activity fee and require no additional cost.

"What we need is essentially a re-opening of the capital plan, and we need people's help to support this kind of a capital project," Levison said. Once funding becomes available, there will be a three-year wait period as plans for the procurement, design and building process are finalized.

"This is an ambitious project with a hefty price tag," Levison said. "But it's something that would add immeasurably to the community and the college … We look forward to having this become a reality."