SPARTA, NJ – It was a beautiful day to break ground at the YMCA. More than 100 people gathered on the site of the soon-to-be-built addition to the Sussex County Y. Board member, trustees, dignitaries, community leaders and invited guests enjoyed refreshments and a few remarks before they put the shovels into the ground.
“This is wonderful. Only one more phase to go,” Carl “Bud” Luthman said. Luthman is the longest standing board members.
In what is being called phase two of a three phase plan, the new expansion comes 12 years after the Sussex County YMCA first open it’s door.
“Twelve and a half years ago we had a ceremony that launched this facility,” Chairman of the Board of Managers Jarrod Cofrancesco said. “It is an honor to be involved in such a cause driven program.”
The heart of the new expansion will be a gymnasium for basketball, volleyball, classes and more. A café and new seating area, updated lounge area and updated lobby with climbing structure and expansion of the cardio-wellness area are also part of the plan. The locker rooms and other areas will be renovated and reconfigured to better meet the needs of the members, according to Greg Albers Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges.
“This was always part of the plan,” COE of Somerset County YMCA said. “I’m glad to see it happen.”
The price tag for the entire second phase is $3 million. Funding has come from a variety of sources including “a strong commitment from the YMCA Association,” according to Metro YMCA President Rick Gorab.
Additionally, $1 million has been raised “by local donors, really from six generous donations,” according to Board member Jim Downing.
“We still need $900,000 to fully fund the dream,” President Rick Gorab said in his remarks to the crowd. “I am asking people in the community who can to help with donations. I stand here as a Sussex County resident, a believer in this dream. My wife and I have chosen to make a significant donation to the cause. We need to raise money for what we call the dream of Sussex County.”
In January of 2005 the Sussex CY opened with 490 members. “We turned the key and opened the door and it snowed and snowed,” Gorab said. “It was a blizzard but still people came. There was a yearning, a strong desire and appetite for this Y.”
“Twelve years ago we thought how well a Y would do in Sussex County and it has,” Senator Steven Oroho said. Oroho spoke of his long history with the YMCA, going back to when he was “a lifeguard, years ago.”
“Membership is booming,” Sussex County YMCA Executive Director Jennifer Gardner said. Serving more than 9,000 members in Sussex County “we need more space.”
“If we were a town, we would be the sixth largest town in Sussex County,” Gorab said. “We deliver services that our members really need. The Y is for ALL. People come for different reasons, to improve health, learn skills, make friends.”
The staff is excited about the possibilities that will be available with the new facilities, according to Garner. “They are looking forward to expanding programs, reach and impact to the community,” she said. “There is an excitement in the building.”
“The Y deals with the whole person, from toddler to senior,” Oroho said. “People come for different reasons; for exercise and volunteer opportunities. Think about what a healthy holistic community looks like. It is the Y. With this expansion, they are expanding their commitment to the community.”
“Our communities really raise our children,” Cofrancesco said. “Parents are primary but nothing is more impactful on our children than their surroundings. This Y has raised children and impacted so many lives. This is the next step in continuing to foster this.”
“Think about the children who come and play in a safe environment, as well as families and seniors,” Hardyston Mayor Stan Kula said. “We are so happy for the Y. It brings people together. We are pleased the Y is in Hardyston. They’ve been an advocate for wellness and positive change.”
“We know this is only the beginning,” Campaign Steering Committee Member Mark Aondoglio said. “It is right for the community and the members. It is our job to wrap their hands as a community in the hands of the people who can make it happen.”
“It is for the community by the community,” Campaign Steering Committee Member Joseph Macaluso said. “Those that can do, should do. I beseech you to stand up and take part. We really are Sussex County.”
Sussex County Chamber of Commerce President Tammie Horsfield said, “We are looking forward to more expansions.” She thanked the committee members “for their passion and enthusiasm.”
Gardner thanked the guests. “Without your perservenence we would not be here today.”
Gorab said, “If you believe no senior should have pain, if you believe all children should learn to swim, if you believe cancer survivors should get better, if you believe in strengthening the Y in your community you should and must invest in the Y.”
Campaign Steering Committee Members Lisa Pompey smith and Ed Walker were also in attendance.
Construction is expected to begin on June 1 and be completed by December. The sections fully funded so far include new gymnasium, fitness center with wellness coaching area, as well as an addition to the current multipurpose area to be dedicated to spinning. The additional funds need to be raised for the entire plan of refurbishment, reconfiguration and reconstruction to be realized.