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Times Record News (Wichita Falls, Texas)
Years of determination, planning and fundraising will finally come to fruition in April when the YMCA breaks ground on the Bill Bartley Family location's expansion.
The $13.5 million project includes a double gymnasium, indoor soccer and gymnastics facilities, plus an early childhood center. One of the late features added was a grand entry that will lesson congestion on the premises.
YMCA Mission Advancement Director Noel Filer said the expected completion is 14-16 months from the groundbreaking date, meaning the massive project will hopefully be finished by late 2018. While she's heard from antsy Wichitans hoping for the upgrades to come quicker, Filer said it was important that they were diligent in planning for the expansion.
"We've gotten overwhelmingly positive support coming from the community," Filer said. "We're trying to resolve some overcrowding issues and plan for the future. This will meet the current needs and also the community's needs for the next several decades."
The YMCA has already served Wichita Falls for several decades, celebrating its 70th anniversary not that long ago. In addition to youth sports leagues such as basketball and baseball, the Y also offers swimming, workout facilities and adult sports leagues.
The double gymnasium with stadium seating will offer an improved setup for the dozens of youth basketball teams. The early childhood center will have a cafeteria and outdoor playground, while the gymnastics center will offer a place for recreational and competitive team gymnastics without having to drive two hours away to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
"People have waited a long time to have facilities that are on par with the Metroplex," Filer said. "We want to keep them in Wichita Falls. We exist to meet the community's needs."
Once completed, the expanded Bill Bartley YMCA could also look to expand the activities offered with 7-on-7 football and volleyball as possibilities. Filer said adding new special needs programs would provide an additional avenue to make a difference in the lives of others.
The YMCA is currently $1 million short of its fundraising goal, having raised about $12.5 million through its capital campaign. Besides donations, the YMCA came up with a Wall of Stars fundraiser that allows stars to be purchased and engraved with family members' names as part of a display.
Along the way, the project has expanded with the grand entry that Filer believes will make a big difference for the thousands of patrons who'll visit the facility.
"It's going to really help with traffic flow and safety and give families space to gather," Filer said. "We made a great project even better."
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