U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Issaquah, right, shares a moment with Yvette Tolson while walking a lap on the second-floor track at the new Kent Y on Monday. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Issaquah, right, shares a moment with Yvette Tolson while walking a lap on the second-floor track at the new Kent Y on Monday. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Kent’s new YMCA prepares for Sept. 14 grand opening

U.S. Rep. Schrier: ‘It’s going to be a gem for the city’

Heavy-duty cranes have disappeared, giving way to last-minute construction details at the large building overlooking a popular park on East Hill.

Crews were busy installing carpeting, caulking gaps and installing fixtures on the Labor Day holiday.

Deadline for the official grand opening of the $36.6 million Kent YMCA is Sept. 14, and project leaders vow to meet it. From first shoveled dirt to last troweled brick, construction has spanned nearly 14 months.

“Should be ready to do,” an Abbott Construction crew member said as he walked down the ground-floor hallway to his next task.

Having completed a hard-hat tour of the two-story, 50,000-square-foot facility on Monday, U.S. Congresswoman Kim Schrier, D-Issaquah, came away impressed.

Building a “Y” is one thing, but constructing one tailored to meet the community’s specific needs is significant, responsible and impactful, she said. Schrier, a pediatrician, understands the importance of such a healthy hamlet.

“It’s an incredible asset for the whole community,” Schrier said after joining a small group of people, including Y project leaders and staff, on a preview of the multi-purpose center. “They’ve taken everything into account, everything from income levels to the needs of students, chronic disease prevention to even details that reflect the cultural needs of the population. It’s going to be a gem for the city.

“They really thoughtfully integrated the notion of a park, outdoor space, indoor space and what the community wants and needs,” she said. “And this is just a jewel.”

On the Y’s ground floor, the group toured community gathering spaces, a play zone for kids, a gym, and a state-of-the-art aquatic center that featured a six-lane, 25-meter-long pool and another pool designed for family activity, play and leisure. Upstairs, there were group fitness rooms, a running track that hovers and circles the gym and a premium cardio and free-weight fitness area.

The new Y will bring expanded school, child care and enrichment programs for children and youth. The Y also will provide mental health and counseling services.

Moreover, the Y’s indoor facilities will embrace and share outdoor recreation with an expanded Morrill Meadows Park.

Coming together

The “Y” is a success story, a collaborative effort led by the YMCA, the city of Kent and many partners, said Nathan Phillips, vice president of public policy and community relations for the YMCA of Greater Seattle.

“It’s been a long road to get here but the community set us up right,” said Phillips, who has been with the project from start to finish, nearly a six-year effort. “We feel pretty good. We’re doing what the community has asked of us to do.”

So far, so good, Phillips said. An early membership drive has attracted about 1,200 households, he said, with hopes of that number growing in the months ahead as the community discovers the facility at 10828 SE 248th St., Kent.

Phillips said the YMCA expects to have 11,000 members at the facility, with another 11,000 people to be served by programs that reach out to the community, including services accessible to people regardless of income.

There are different membership categories, as Phillips explained, based on household income. The model, adopted by the YMCA of Great Seattle, has caught on nationally.

The city of Kent is paying about $11 million toward the project.

Nearly $1 million is left to raise to completely cover the project’s bill, Y officials said.

Major contributors include about $5 million in state grants; a $2 million anonymous donation through the YMCA of Greater Seattle Board; $1 million from the Morford family; $1 million from the King County Council; $500,000 from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing; and $250,000 from the Delta Air Lines Foundation.

Learn more at seattleymca.org.

Nathan Phillips, vice president of public policy and community relations for the YMCA of Greater Seattle, talks with a touring group at the new Kent YMCA on Monday. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Nathan Phillips, vice president of public policy and community relations for the YMCA of Greater Seattle, talks with a touring group at the new Kent YMCA on Monday. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

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