By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor
A new Wayman Palmer YMCA is in the works and the enthusiasm during the Wednesday, August 8, unveiling of the plans was shared by all of the speakers.
“This is a monumental day for the Warren Sherman neighborhood; a monumental day for kids; a monumental day for Toledo,” said Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz as he opened the announcement ceremony breaking the news about the coming new 50,500 square feet facility (twice the size of the current building) that is expected to open in 2024.
“It’s a partnership, a robust partnership with dozens of [collaborators],” he said.
As the mayor related, Wednesday’s announcement followed 12 to 15 months of work with those dozens of community partners that has resulted in a plan to invest $21 million into a new facility to be located on Bancroft Street – to improve visibility and access – after which the current building will be razed and the space turned into outdoor park and recreational facility.
“This is another step in a series of investments in neighborhoods where people have been disinvested in for too long,” he added. “All of these things are game changing investments. Talk is cheap, action is powerful.”
Following the mayor’s opening. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur said: “One can see over time, a community re-shape itself … this particular construction will fit right in to ‘Build Back Better.’”
As enthusiastic and emotional as the day was for most of the speakers and attendees, no one was more affected by the idea of a new, greatly improved Wayman Palmer YMCA than two councilwomen who grew up in the area, live in the area, used the facility over the years and now represent residents of the area.
Fourth District Councilwoman Vanice Williams and At-Large Councilwoman Cerssandra McPherson spoke about what such a new building will mean for them, their families and the many families who are part of the neighborhood.
“This is something this neighborhood has needed for decades,” said Williams. “This needed to be done – we need to make this great for this neighborhood and this will be the best project to represent Wayman Palmer’s vision for the neighborhood.”
“This is beyond fabulous,” added McPherson. “Our neighborhood deserves this; this is a dream come true. We are going to bring the ‘neighbor’ back into the ‘hood.’”
The City of Toledo Department of Neighborhoods Director Rosalyn Clemens laid out how the financing will work. The project’s $21 million price tag will come from a combination of sources: Community Development Block Grant funding, American Rescue Plan Act funding, the YMCA capital campaign and private sector donations.
The new building will have an indoor swimming pool, multipurpose rooms, a demonstration kitchen, a community lounge, gymnasiums, fitness rooms.
“These are the types of projects to make for equity and inclusion,” said Clemens.
The city will host a community forum on Monday, September 27 to gather community input on the plan for the new building and park. It is anticipated that the funding plan will be in place by the end of 2021 and that construction will start in 2023, to be completed in 2024.
“This is an impact that is going to last generations,” said Brad Toft, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Toledo.
According to Eric Williams, executive director of the Wayman Palmer Y, the YMCA had been working on plans for a capital campaign for several years, but just with the intention of raising funds for renovations of the current facility. The city of Toledo approached the Y with the idea of raising public and private funds to build a new facility.
“We are going to continue to do the hard work and rebuild our neighborhoods,” said Kapszukiewicz closing out the announcement. “We are moving and making progress and we are going to continue to do it.”