By Fletcher Word
The Truth Editor
By the end of October, construction will begin on the new and improved Wayman Palmer YMCA in the space currently occupied by the Inez Nash Park on Bancroft Street. By the beginning of 2025, the new Wayman Palmer will open, offering area residents an opportunity to sample and enjoy a wide range of programs and amenities such as an indoor pool, climber/slide for kids, outdoor splash pool, larger group exercise space, larger fitness center, KidZone free babysitting, private locker rooms and computer lab in a facility about 30 to 40 percent larger than the current structure.
The impact on the neighborhood, and the city at large, will be considerable says Eric Williams, executive director of the Wayman Palmer. He anticipates that membership will increase from its current 500 level to upwards of 2200 after construction is completed.
Willaims anticipates that the new Wayman Palmer Y will be an attractive option for those working in nearby building and offices. The swimming pool and the enhanced exercise and workout facilities will bring in new members from the downtown area workforce much as the recently added Peloton fitness equipment did.
However, the surrounding community will benefit greatly as well. Financial assistance will be offered for memberships in the Y on an even more generous scale than is now offered. “There will be two tiers of financial assistance to make sure that no one gets turned away,” says Williams.
The original announcement of the plans to build a new Wayman Player Y was made two years ago and, at that time, the cost estimate for the facility was $21. That would have been financed by a combination of sources – Community Development Block Grant funds, American Rescue Plan Act funds, the YMCA capital campaign and private sector donations.
In the past two years, the price tag has gone up dramatically – to the current $28.7 million total – but the project is still on course. The American Rescue Plan funds, grants and private investment monies have made up the shortfall.
According to Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz’s office, $19 million will come from federal funds, $3 million from the YMCA capital campaign and $6.7 from CDBG funds.
The new Y will also include several partners who will provide services to the neighborhood. Toledo Public Schools will have a Head Start program; a behavioral health agency will provide services and there will be a food bank in the building as well.
The $28 Million dollar project, which is a combination of government funding including the Biden American Rescue Plan, grants and private investment is a commitment to improvements to Wayman Palmer Y that was built almost 50 years ago.
One cannot underestimate the impact the new facility will have upon a neighborhood that is badly in need of new resources, new residents and more residential structures. Close to downtown, the Warren Sherman area has been plagued by a fleeing population, dwindling resources and lack of recreation and entertainment activity for years.
The new Wayman Palmer Y will be a highlight for Bancroft between Franklin and Cherry, add value to the properties and dramatically increase opportunities for area residents.