A rendering of the YMCA pool, part of the $36 million facility to be built on Kent’s East Hill. COURTESY GRAPHIC, YMCA

A rendering of the YMCA pool, part of the $36 million facility to be built on Kent’s East Hill. COURTESY GRAPHIC, YMCA

Construction starts on YMCA in Kent

New facility to open by fall 2019

Construction has started on the new 50,000-square-foot YMCA in Kent.

A groundbreaking is set for 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 21 at the site between Morrill Meadows Park and East Hill Park near Southeast 248th Street and 104th Avenue Southeast.

“I’m really excited this is happening,” said Mayor Dana Ralph at the June 19 City Council meeting when she announced the construction update. “It’s kind of been a long road but the city deserves a facility like this – someplace where our residents can come and not only recreate but there will be tutoring, life skills available and a place for community meetings.”

Construction is expected to take about 15 months, with a grand opening in the late summer or early fall of 2019, Ralph said.

Council President Bill Boyce celebrated the project update.

“That is a great thing for the city of Kent,” Boyce said. “There are a lot of large cities that have a YMCA and cities smaller than Kent that have a YMCA, but to have one here in our own backyard is going to be a great thing for our community.”

Project highlights include an aquatic center with lap lanes and family swim areas; dedicated community gathering spaces; gym, group fitness, and cardio spaces; indoor and outdoor recreation surrounded by Morrill Meadows Park; and significant expansion of school, child care and enrichment programs for youth.

YMCA officials expect to have 11,000 members and serve another 11,000 people through community programs.

The total project cost is estimated at $36 million. The YMCA is paying $26 million with the city paying about $10 million, according to city documents.

Fundraising by the YMCA of Greater Seattle was coming up a bit short earlier this year but the YMCA board approved giving another $2 million toward the project to move it forward.

The city will pay for an estimated $6.5 million of improvements and changes at Morrill Meadows Park and the nearby East Hill Park (including a new dog park) as well as a new 250-spot parking lot. The city also will pay about $2 million for frontage improvements along Southeast 248th Street – a three-lane road, new sidewalks and bike lanes and moving the overhead utilities underground.

Kent will spend another $1.5 million to buy replacement park property for the land lost due to the new YMCA. The park property had restrictions because portions of the land were acquired with grant funds through the state Recreation and Conservation Office and funds through King County’s 1989 open space bonds.

The city is paying for the project with money from the parks capital fund (fees from the real estate excise tax each time a property is sold); the sale of the city-owned Kent Highlands property on the West Hill; general fund reserves; the street operating fund; the street drainage fund and a state grant.

Morrill Meadows Park will remain open during construction. The city has temporarily relocated the dog park farther east with two fenced areas, one for small dogs and one for large dogs. Gravel off-street parking is available. There is no water available at the temporary site so people are encouraged to bring water for themselves and their dog during the warm summer weather.

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