While plans have started to move forward to create a new modern home for the Westport Weston Family Y, Westonites are being encouraged to become part of the team.
If all goes well, phase one of the project will be completed in September 2014 with the opening of a new 54,000-square-foot facility, including a swimming pool, gymnasium and wellness center, at the Y’s 32-acre Mahackeno Outdoor Center in Westport.
Located along the Saugatuck River and adjacent to the Merritt Parkway, the Mahackeno campus is currently the home of the Family Y’s summer day camp.
Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein is supportive of the Y’s expansion and construction plans. “I think it is an exciting proposal. The Y’s current building is often difficult for disabled people or people with strollers to use. The new Y will be more accessible,” she said.
Bonnie Strittmatter, president of the Y’s volunteer board of directors, and Rob Reeves, Family Y CEO, recently spoke to a group in Weston about the project. Ms. Strittmatter unveiled the preliminary floor plans of the new facility designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects.
“There’s a real need for a community gathering place for Westonites,” said Robin Tauck, a Y trustee from Weston. “Our new Family Y at Mahackeno will also be a unifying place for those who live in the sister communities of Westport and Weston,” she said.
The Y has raised $34.3 million in funding to date, which will include the proceeds from the sale of its current home, which was originally built in 1923. The estimate for the total cost of the first phase of the new Y is $37.5 million. Y officials are reaching out to the Westport and Weston communities hoping to raise the remaining $3.2 million needed to build phase one.
“We are optimistic that the recent progress we’ve made with fund raising will continue until we reach our goal of fully funding the first phase of our building project by the time construction starts,” said Mr. Reeves. “Our Y benefits everyone in our community, whether they use the facility or not. And its new location — along with convenient and ample parking — will surely make it more accessible to Westonites. Now is the time for friends and neighbors to come together to help us build something that truly matters, a much-needed new Y that will make our towns a better place to live,” he said.
Reed Ameden, who lives on Old Mill Road in Weston, is a strong supporter and active member of the Y. He met his wife there years ago when he joined the Y’s swim team, and his children learned how to swim at the Y. “I’ve seen physical problems at the current facility. It’s an odd shape and the building doesn’t flow smoothly. The new facility will be more comfortable with more amenities and will have better parking,” he said.
The Y has endured several obstacles and challenges in the course of its plans to to build a new facility. In 2002, the Y’s board of trustees first voted to move the facility from downtown Westport to Camp Mahackeno and purchased several homes in the area to expand the building site. However, after receiving a positive vote from the Planning and Zoning Commission in 2008, several lawsuits were filed against the town, stalling the project.
Scott Smith, the Y’s director of communications, said the lawsuits were resolved in 2010 and 2011, leaving one remaining obstacle to overcome — fund raising. “Our goal is to fully fund the new facility by the time construction starts. We’re gearing up this summer and fall by expanding our campaign by taking a more grass-roots approach and inviting all people of all levels to join us in the capital campaign,” he said.