A preliminary look at what the new Kent YMCA on the East Hill could look like. Final designs have yet to be done.

Morford family gives $1 million donation to Kent YMCA

The YMCA gained momentum to fund a new facility in Kent with a recent $1 million donation from the Morford family.

The YMCA plans to build a $25 million, two-story building on the East Hill near Southeast 248th Street and 104th Avenue Southeast in the middle of Morrill Meadows Park. The city will provide the land for the 60,000-square-foot facility that will include a gym, pool, exercise and meeting rooms.

While the YMCA will raise $12.5 million for the project, the local community must raise the other $12.5 million.

“We know that’s a huge lift for Kent but we’ve been seeing some amazing things happen,” said Nathan Phillips, regional vice president for the YMCA of Greater Seattle, during a Tuesday presentation about the project to the City Council. “The Morford family has committed $1 million to the project, which we think is one of the biggest gifts ever made in the city of Kent. That really kicks off the fundraising in a way that it needs to, so we are on track to where we need to be.”

The late Paul Morford, who helped run a Kent construction company, supported and pushed for the YMCA and the city to work out a deal for a new facility. Morford died in 2010.

The King County Council approved in November a $1 million contribution toward the project as part of its 2017-2018 budget. Phillips said that money and the Morford donation combines for a great start. Depending on how fast funds are raised, the YMCA could be built within the next two to four years. Construction on the first phase could start next year.

The YMCA also revealed a rendering of a preliminary building design at the council workshop. Phillips said it’s not an official design but gives an idea of how the building will fit on the property and integrate with the park.

“We have this building in the middle of a park so you will see a lot of glass in the design,” Phillips said. “The second floor is where a lot of exercise equipment and things are and lots of windows, so you have a lot of active people inside a Y looking out at an active park, and lots of active park people looking in at an active Y. It’s a really cool, active place.”

Several council members voiced their support of the design.

“I love these drawings,” Councilwoman Dana Ralph said. “This feels like one more real step. We’ve been plugging away at this for a really long time.”

The YMCA pool will replace the city’s aging Kent Meridian Pool. The city bought the Naden properties with plans to build a new pool but those plans fell apart during the recession from 2007 to 2009. The city now is trying to sell the Naden property.

Mayor Suzette Cooke told the council at its workshop how much she’s looking forward to the YMCA coming to town.

“I am thrilled with the partnership that we as a city are developing with the Y and with the community,” she said. “We have community leaders, people that have stepped up and with this push for us to be able to get a Y within our city. Some of them are putting their money where their mouth is. We need the community’s dollars. … to be able to move through with this.”

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