WESTPORT, Conn. – With shovels in hand, numerous Westport Weston Family Y officials broke ground Tuesday afternoon for construction of the new Family Y at its Mahackeno Outdoor Center.
Although it was a symbolic gesture, the groundbreaking ceremony was a landmark occasion for the Y, closing the book a more than 10 year process that was riddled with hurdles.
“Today’s groundbreaking marks one of the most significant days in the 90-year history of the Westport Weston Family Y as well as an important day for the entire Westport/Weston community,” Jim Marpe, chairman of the Y’s Board of Trustee’s said.
“The Y has always served as a center of community life and wellness for our local citizens of all ages,” said Marpe. “Today, we are taking a very important next step in assuring that our mission of community center and wellness continues, not just for the current generation of those who live and work in our towns, but also for future generations of local families for decades to come.”
The ceremony marks the official start of construction on the new facility, starting with a 54,000-square-foot building, the first phase of the total 102,000-square-foot facility. This building will include a 10-lane, 25-yard lap pool, a warm-water family/teaching pool, a health and wellness center, a multi-purpose gymnasium, three group fitness studios, a Child Watch/Kids’ Adventure Gym area, five locker rooms and other amenities.
The history behind building a new Y dates back to at least 2003, when — after a three-year review of 30 sites — the Y’s governing board selected Mahackeno as the site for the new facility. In 2005, the regulatory approval process began. The sale of the Y’s current downtown facility was finalized in 2006 and, in 2008, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved plans for the new facility.
After the plans were approved, however, four lawsuits against the project surfaced. The final lawsuit against the project was dismissed in 2011 , allowing the Y to begin its capital campaign for the new facility.
Construction on the first phase of the facility is expected to be completed by November 2014, when the building is slated to open.
The Y is hosting a question-and-answer session Thursday on the project at 7:30 p.m. The session will be held in the board room of the Y’s current downtown facility, 59 Post Road E.