YMCA celebrates in style


Event in new gym marks completion of major construction project

Youngsters trying out the new basketball hoops and those swinging badminton racquets put a touch of youthful energy on last week’s celebration of the completion of the first phase of construction at the La Jolla YMCA.

Held in the sparkling new gymnasium and attended by more than 250 adults and young club members, the event marked the completion of the first major improvements at the club in 44 years.

Board president Christopher Chandler said the opening was the culmination of an eight-year process.

The largest part of the project is the gym; also added were an expanded health and wellness center, remodeled court sports complex, a play field and an expanded parking area.

More work is ahead, said Executive Director Sam Wurtzbacher.

“It will be much more dramatic, with a new entrance, new lobby, locker rooms and indoor and outdoor pool complex,” he added. Also planned for the $9 million second phase are community meeting rooms.

He said the schedule calls for starting construction in about three and a half years.

One of the speakers at Friday’s event was architect and board member Timothy Golba, who noted that the project’s first phase “brought out the best and the worst of the community.”

He said design changes such as lowering the profile of the structure by sinking it below ground level were made to accommodate neighbors’ concerns.

The Y’s board has set a goal of $5.1 million for the first phase of its New Century Capital Campaign and has raised slightly more than $4.7 million so far, a news release noted. Once the additional money is raised the gymnastics center, now housed in the old gym, will be remodeled, said Wurtzbacher.

Before the new gym opened, gymnasts had to share the gym with participants in other sports programs, Chandler said.

Rick Collato, president and CEO of the YMCA of San Diego County who is a member of the local club, talked about what the organization brings to families and children.

His daughter took gymnastics classes there and “learned how to stand on her hands and then on her feet” because of the programs. She also played basketball there and received an athletic scholarship to USD. His son is a unit leader in the Y’s surf camp.

Other speakers included Zeke Knight, a former board chairman who headed the fundraising drive; Marion So, one of the key donors, and City Councilman Scott Peters.

The new gym includes a viewing room so parents can sneak a peek at their children - or the other way around if it’s mom and dad taking in a round of volleyball or basketball.

For information, call (858) 453-3483.