YMCA launches $3 million expansion effort

Published 5:13 pm Saturday, October 6, 2018

Interest in the Vicksburg YMCA’s programs and activities has put a strain on the association’s facilities, and its officials have outlined an ambitious $3 million program to expand its current facilities.

And the planning and approval to move ahead with the project began two years ago.

“In 2016, we formed a long-range planning committee to look at expanding the association’s needs and how is the Y not serving the community,” said Phillip Doiron, YMCA executive director.

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The committee found three major needs:

• Increased space for programs.

“We have after school and summer programs and summer camp programs for children,” Doiron said.

He said he summer program at the Y’s W.K. Purks Center, 267 YMCA Place, off East Clay Street fills up within 35 minutes after registration opens, and the other two sites fill up in the first two weeks of registration.

The Y also needed more activity space for basketball and adult pickle ball, and more space for classroom and meeting rooms.

• Better security.

The children’s programs are held in the gym with people going back and forth, and need to have separate area. Also, the Purks building has three entrances.

“We want to consolidate them into one entrance and exit so to have better control over who’s coming in and exiting,” Doiron said.

• Mississippi’s rank as last in the country in health and wellness has caused an increased concern in the area over wellness, and an increase in people using the Y’s fitness center.

The planning committee presented its report in February 2017 brought the report to the association’s board of directors, which gave the go-ahead on the project.

“The next thing we did was a feasibility study,” Doiron said. “Because we are a charitable, non-profit organization, we’re not going to spend money on a project unless the public will support it.”

When the study showed support for the project, the association began a fundraising program, starting with a “quiet phase,” to start the campaign. The campaign has raised $2.75 million so far toward the $3 million target.

The upgrade includes building a half-gym for basketball and pickle ball, an area for children’s programs, adding multipurpose areas for programs and expanding the fit area. There is also a “future plan” option to build a new gym if money is available.

The association plans to break ground in the first quarter of 2019.

Doiron has been talking to civic organizations about the expansion.

“When I talk to people about the expansion, discusses how the Y has given back to the community in its 95 years,: he said. “I believe when you walk into the building, you see a good cross section of Vicksburg, and we have helped people who are unable to afford the programs at the Y.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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