BY JOHN WHITLOCK
After years of planning, discussion and construction, the new YMCA at Hamburg Place opened its doors on Halloween.
At the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 24, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray called the facility and the dedication behind it “incredibly inspiring” and said it reflects the commitment made by the YMCA of Central Kentucky and the public.
“People are what makes Lexington special —our citizens,” Gray said.
At the ribbon cutting, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, KY-6, said the mission of the YMCA is a reflection of what private citizens can accomplish when helping others.
“There is no better example, (the YMCA) is so proud to help the mind and soul of the community.”
Because of its proximity to Interstate 75,Barr said the impact of the new YMCA will extend well beyond Hamburg.
“This is easily accessible from Mount Sterling, Winchester as well as eastern Kentucky,” Barr said.
The YMCA as an asset to the community was the theme of the ceremony.
Harry Richart III, former chair of the Commerce Lexington board of directors, said the new YMCA will be a fixture in the future of Lexington and will stand as a monument to the generosity and a commitment to civic improvement.
“This is about the maturing and quality of life in Lexington,” Richard said. “ People like (The) Whitaker (family) giving back that makes a place like this happen.”
Elmer Whitaker, CEO of Whitaker Bank, whose family name will adorn the building, said his father was committed to helping others.
Elmer Whitaker said the influence of the new YMCA will touch the lives of many other people beyond those who simply work and play there.
“It will be a gathering spot for the community and the spirit of community is built around families,” Elmer Whitaker said.
Behind the scenes
YMCA of Central Kentucky President and CEO David Martorano said the need for a facility like this was obvious as Hamburg continues to expand and develop.
“For more than 160 years, the YMCA of Central Kentucky has strengthened the fabric of our community by focusing on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility,” Martorano said. “Whether it’s connecting with friends, spending time as a family, or overcoming physical limitations, the Y has been the cornerstone of many of our lives and has been the foundation upon which countless goals have been set and achieved.”
With three established and thriving Lexington locations, Hamburg was the largest area of Lexington/Fayette County not being served by a YMCA.
Martorano said “I can’t think of a better location more perfectly suited to serve an area of our community whichpreviously did not have a Y presence.”
Although the YMCA of Central Kentucky hasinvested millions in the project, Martorano said a dollar figure doesn’t reflect the true investment.
“All in we’re right around $16MM invested on this project…But the financials don’t begin to tell the story of the thousands of lives which will be impacted by the generosity of people like the Whitaker family as well as other community stakeholders.”
As plans moved forward, the YMCA reached out to the public for suggestions and recommendations. Martoranos said the decisions were made with “the thoughtful input given to us by the residents of the Hamburg community based on their needs for how the Y could make a positive impact now and in the future.”
The community may be impressed with the results.
The 70,000 square foot YMCA includes a 10,000-square-foot wellness center, a youth development wing, an aquatic complex including indoor slides and an outdoor sprayground, three studios for group exercise classes, a multi-functional wellness area, full-size gymnasium and a three-lane walking/running track.
For the people behind the new facility, the impact on the community extends well beyond fun and fitness.
“We believe that to bring about meaningful change in individuals and communities, we must be focused and accountable,” Martorano said. “At the Y, we measure the success of our cause by how well we engage communities in our three areas of focus.”
That impact is designed to touch many future generations.
“We have an opportunity to enhance the quality of life in our community,” Martorano said. “… you can be assured that whatever activity your family or your child engages in – from afterschool to family time to sports to camp – you’ll have a safe, positive setting to play, learn and grow.
This article also appears on page 5 of the November 2016 printed issue of Ace.
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