Thousands of New Members Rush to Join Long-Awaited Neighborhood Hub
New Rockaways Branch Features Largest Aquatic Center of Any of the Y’s 24 Citywide Branches
Facility to Offer Swim Safety Programming Crucial for Beachfront Community
The YMCA of Greater New York dedicated its newest branch, the Rockaways YMCA at Arverne by the Sea, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled today. Among the City elected officials and community leaders in attendance were: State Senators Joe Addabbo, James Sanders and Malcolm Smith; Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and District 31 Council Member Donovan Richards Jr., among others. YMCA of Greater New York President and CEO Jack Lund led the proceedings at the new Y, which opened to the general public on February 18 and welcomed thousands of new members in its first week of operation. (The ribbon-cutting ceremony was originally scheduled for February but postponed due to inclement weather.)
“For the first time in our organization’s 161 year history, the YMCA has a permanent, brick-and-mortar branch in the Rockaways,” said Jack Lund, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York. “This new Y is not only bringing vital programs and services to the people of the Rockaways, but it is creating jobs and helping to sustain economic development in the area. In 2013, the Y served more than 500,000 New Yorkers – more than we’ve ever served before. The addition of this Y – which has already drawn thousands of local residents – enables our organization to help strengthen the foundation of the vibrant and resilient neighborhoods of the Rockaways.”
The Rockaway YMCA at Arverne by the Sea is the newest branch of the YMCA of Greater New York, the City’s leading provider of youth services and a cornerstone of New York’s economic and community development. Developed by Benjamin-Beechwood LLC as a unique joint public-private venture, the 44,000-square foot facility is home to the largest aquatic center of any of the 24 YMCA branches in New York City, featuring a lap pool and a family-friendly recreational pool with a water slide and other water features. The facility also features a full-court gymnasium, fitness center, outdoor recreational field, community multi-purpose space for youth and family programs, and more.
A host of need-based, high quality programs are provided at the new Y, including after school and college readiness programs, youth employment and job training, child care, adult learning and much more.
Like many of New York City’s coastal communities, the Rockaways are still recovering from the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy. The new Y branch faced construction setbacks after the storm battered the neighborhood of Far Rockaway, but after a slight delay the center has opened to an enthusiastic welcome from the community, creating hundreds of new jobs in the neighborhood.
While the state-of-the-art facilities are new, the YMCA has long been on the ground in the Rockaways, operating afterschool programs and providing aid to those in need. When flooding and fires from Superstorm Sandy drove many of Far Rockaway’s families from their homes, the Y distributed cases of water, blankets, clothing and household items to families and gave backpacks with school supplies and winter apparel to 1,000 students enrolled in P.S. 197. Now, the Y has a permanent home in the community and a physical presence in the Rockaways for the very first time.
“The new Rockaway YMCA at Arverne by the Sea is a bright and shining example of our neighborhood’s ongoing revitalization and recovery from super-storm Sandy,” said Council Member Donovan Richards Jr., who represents the 31st district. “This facility will provide jobs for local Rockaways residents and stand to serve as our neighborhood’s heart – providing a safe, community center dedicated to improving the quality of life for all our families.”
“Recognizing the intrinsic relationship between economic vitality and quality of life, Arverne by the Sea was designed in the spirit of livability, sustainability and the betterment of the Rockaways”, says Gerry Romski, project executive for the developers. “The addition of this spectacular YMCA culminates our original vision. We’re thrilled to present free memberships to new and existing homeowners.”
Mr. Lund said: “We are especially proud to welcome the Rockaways community to our new branch so soon after opening the doors of another brand new facility in Coney Island in December 2013, and announcing our plans to begin construction of a new branch in the South Bronx. Together, these milestones enhance our presence across the City and bring us closer to our goal of opening new branches and upgrading our facilities in all five boroughs.”
About the YMCA of Greater New York
The YMCA of Greater New York is, and always will be, dedicated to building healthy, confident, connected and secure children, adults, families and communities. With a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y nurtures the potential of every youth and teen, improves New York City’s health and well-being and provides opportunities to give back and support neighbors. In scores of neighborhoods across the five boroughs and its camp upstate, the Y makes accessible the support and opportunities that empower more than 500,000 New Yorkers to learn, grow and thrive. Visit ymcanyc.org. Follow us on Twitter @ymcanyc and Facebook at facebook.com/ymcanyc. Join the conversation with #CuttheRibbon.