On March 1st, the Newport County YMCA (NCYMCA) launched the public, community phase of their capital campaign, “For Community. For  Generations.” that will allow the Y to renovate and expand its current facility on Valley  Road in Middletown.

The Y announces in a press release today that it has already secured over $8.3 million toward its $10,000,000 campaign goal during their “quiet phase” and is now welcoming the community to help support this historic project as they strive to reach the finish line. 

“This is a community project that requires community support,” said Lee Merrill, Jr,  YMCA Capital Campaign Co-chair in a statement included within a press release. “Since 1878, the Newport County YMCA has served generations of families, providing access to resources they need to be healthy and safe.  Today our kids, families, and seniors need this more than ever. That’s why we are  looking to our local residents and businesses to help us make this project a reality.” 

Farrar & Associates Inc. Construction Management is the project’s General  Contractor/Construction Manager and has been working over the past two years with the  Newport County YMCA in the planning for this transformational community project.  Presently, the Y is working with Farrar, the engineers, and project architects, Vision3, on the development of the final construction documents that are scheduled for completion early May 2021.  

This is a large-scale project that includes approximately 34,000 sq./ft. of new building additions and renovations to the remaining existing facility. The primary venue includes Administrative offices, Lobby & Member Services, Child Watch, and Kids Adventure  Center, Community/Multipurpose Room, Group exercise studios, Wellness Center,  Squash Complex, Universal Locker Rooms, as well as site work, landscape, and hardscape improvement. 

The building design was developed during an extended, COVID-influenced two-year planning process, incorporating recommendations from various consultants, donors, and the greater YMCA community to always keep the health and safety of the Y’s members and program participants top of mind. The building design has received rave reviews by the Middletown Planning and Zoning Boards which now clears the way for construction.  The NCYMCA is enthusiastically looking forward to a mid-summer 2021 groundbreaking! 

The Y anticipates the project should take roughly 18 months once construction begins; however, the size, scope, and timing of the project will ultimately be determined by the generosity of the community in support of this effort. The Y intends to remain open during construction to continue to serve the community’s needs. 

Plans for the new construction and renovation of the existing building include relocation and expansion of the wellness center plus more group exercise studios, a new welcoming lobby, and central meeting space, new family/universal locker rooms, a state-of-the-art  Squash Complex, a new Youth Development Center with enhanced Child Watch and licensed afterschool care for more than 80 children, and reconfigured parking to provide an additional 100 spaces to improve drop off/pick up. Overall, the new Y will reflect a redesigned facility that focuses on health, safety, accessibility, efficiency, and flexible program spaces – allowing the Y to adapt to ever-changing health needs and guidelines.  

Rendering of Newport County YMCA renovations and addition. Image via Visi3n Architects

The planned Squash Complex will be the home of RhodySquash, a free program for under-resourced youth in Newport County, that offers unique educational and scholarship opportunities for higher education. The plan for the Squash Complex will house six singles courts, one doubles court, an extended viewing area, a community kitchen, and an education center. 

“RhodySquash provides a way for youth to stay physically active while teaching mental stamina, confidence, and character,” said campaign volunteers and founders of Newport  Community Squash in 1977, Sam & Ruth Jernigan. “We know it’s bigger than the sport of squash, but, as a result of participating in this program and being mentored by positive role models, kids who had limited opportunities have gone on to do better in school, learned important life skills, and developed an understanding of community service. Through RhodySquash, we are building tomorrow’s leaders.” 

“For more than 142 years this Y has served the children, adults, and families in our community. It is a place for people from all walks of life to come together to gather and improve their quality of life,” said Mike Miller, NCYMCA CEO. “Today is all about uniting our community and inviting the residents to join us in this exciting campaign that will ensure we can help even more people on their journey for a better life and give children the best start. I am inspired and grateful for the generosity of support we have received so  far from all our wonderful donors, especially our leadership gifts from the van Beuren  Charitable Foundation, the de Ramel Foundation, the Alletta Morris McBean Charitable  Trust, The Champlin Foundation, The Hamilton Family Charitable Trust, BankNewport,  Prince Charitable Trusts, NewportFed Charitable Foundation, and the Walter & Olivia  Kiebach Foundation.” 

On Thursday, March 4th, the Y will be holding a public Campaign Kick-Off Rally virtually from 6-7pm. Anyone can join from anywhere by registering ahead of time at www.yot.me/events/9316 and the link for the virtual event will be emailed by 5 pm on event day. 

For more information about the Y’s capital campaign and how you can help, please contact Susan Piacenti, Director of Development, at 401.847.9200 x 109 or  susanp@newportymca.org. 

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Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and serves on the Board of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and Lucy's Hearth. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.