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Ventura County Star (California)
The final construction phase of a new YMCA in Westlake Village is slated to begin in February, thanks to a $2.5 million donation from a former mayor of the city, Doug Yarrow and his wife, Penny, YMCA officials announced Wednesday.
It wasn't the couple's first donation to the long-planned project. They contributed $1 million several years ago to launch its capital campaign.
In recognition of their financial support, the partially built facility at 31225 La Baya Drive, previously known as the Triunfo YMCA, will be renamed the Yarrow Family YMCA.
"We are thrilled to recognize the Yarrows' significant leadership and philanthropy by naming this Y in their honor," said Ronnie Stone, CEO of the nonprofit Southeast Ventura County YMCA. "The Yarrows have dedicated their lives to family and community. They embody the values of the Y and we are so grateful for their ongoing support."
The nonprofit oversees the planned Westlake Village YMCA, as well as YMCAs in Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park and Simi Valley.
In a statement, Doug Yarrow, who served as Westlake Village mayor in the 1990s, said, "Penny and I are excited by a vision to make the (Southeast Ventura County YMCA) the most innovative, solutions-focused nonprofit serving the Conejo Valley. We are grateful to (Dole Food Co. CEO/chair) David Murdock for his generosity and vision. Without him, the size and scope of this project would not have been possible."
Murdock, whose company is based in Westlake Village, has previously donated about $20 million to the planned Westlake Village YMCA, Stone said.
"The YMCA has a long history of providing our communities with youth and family programs and resources," Yarrow said. "The establishment of a true community hub in Westlake Village will allow the Y to amplify its focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility."
About $33.5 million has been raised altogether for the $35 million project, Stone said. That includes two $1 million gifts that were spurred by the Yarrows' $2.5 million donation, he said. Another $1.5 million still needs to be raised.
Stone said he expects the third and final phase of construction — the interior "guts" of the building — to begin in February, with doors to open in early 2019. That would be 30 years after the facility was first envisioned. The building's steel structure and exterior were completed in the first two construction phases, he said.
The 60,000-square-foot facility will be one of the largest YMCAs in California, he said. It will feature state-of-the-art fitness equipment, group exercise classrooms, a multi-sport gymnasium, two indoor pools, community meeting rooms and more.
"This YMCA will ... provide resources to children, teens, families, active adults and seniors," Stone said.
The Yarrows' son, Patrick, 37, began working for the YMCA at age 16 and is now executive director of the Westlake Village facility.
He said he's "very excited" about his parents' $2.5 million gift.
"It's been a big push, especially by my mom over the last number of years," he said. "We're fortunate, and I'm very proud that my parents are in a position that they can do this and have chosen to do it."
The new YMCA is "going to be an amazing asset for the community," he said.
Another one of the Southeast Ventura County YMCA's properties, the Miller Family YMCA in the Dos Vientos section of Newbury Park, is closing Dec. 31 due to what Stone says is annual operating losses of about $100,000.
It's in escrow to be bought for $2.85 million by a Texas-based nonprofit, Heavenly Father's Foundation, which intends to lease it to Godspeak Calvary Chapel, whose senior pastor is Thousand Oaks City Council member Rob McCoy. The church is currently in a smaller, out-of-the-way, industrial park location in Newbury Park about five miles from the Dos Vientos YMCA.
Those plans are opposed by many Dos Vientos residents, who ideally want the building to remain a YMCA.
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