YMCA President and CEO Jack Lund (l.) and Executive Director Rick Hopkins in the aquatic center in the new Rockaway YMCA in Arverne.
Jack Lund had no doubt the residents of Rockaway were looking forward to the opening of the new YMCA. But there is one recent image that sticks in his mind.
“Two boys were peering through the window and then they high-fived each other,” said Lund, the CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York, during a tour of the facility on Wednesday. “That was all I needed.”
The center will bring the peninsula a much-needed recreation site, but Rockaway residents are also hoping to land some of the 100-plus jobs needed to operate it.
The News got a sneak peek into the $23 million, 44,000-square-foot Y on Beach 73rd St. which is undergoing the final phases of construction. It’s slated to open on Feb. 14, 2014.
A sneak peek at the still-under-construction aquatic center at the new Arverne YMCA. It features two pools and will open in February 2014.
Large windows add a bright, airy feel and afford an ocean view from the 6,500-square-foot wellness center on the second floor.
The spacious gymnasium has maple-wood floors, and there are locker rooms for families in addition to the customary changing areas for women and men.
But the centerpiece of the site is the aquatic center that features two pools, a twisting blue slide and a tile wall with a wave motif.
“This will be the largest aquatic center of any of the 24 YMCAs in New York City,” said Lund. It’ll be bigger, even, than the brand new Coney Island Y, which opened in Brooklyn this week.
Parents can safely wade with their tots at one end of the family pool, while older kids take advantage of the slide at the other.
A cooler, lap pool goes as deep as nine feet for lifeguard training.
The new Arverne YMCA will also boast a gymnasium and basketball courts with maple wood floors. It is slated to open in February, 2014
Lund said the Y’s main goal is to make sure local kids learn how to swim. Lessons, he said, will be free.
“The highest incidence of drowning rates happen to be — logically — in the shore communities,” said Lund. “I’m willing to bet most of the kids that live in the Rockaways can’t swim.”
The facility was built as part of the Arverne-by-the-Sea urban renewal project. The funding came from the developers, city officials and private dollars.
“We’re building a community in Arverne,” said Gerry Romski, project executive for Arverne-by-the-Sea. “The Y is a very important component.”
Owners of that community will get a free one-year family membership, he said.
Rates are still being established, but Lund said the no one who can’t afford a membership will be turned away.
“Anybody that wants to be part of the Y will be part of the Y,” he said.