Lockport YMCA plans to restart fund drive for new building - The Buffalo News
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Lockport YMCA plans to restart fund drive for new building

LOCKPORT – The YMCA Buffalo Niagara, which is in the process of merging with the Lockport Family YMCA, announced Monday it is restarting fundraising efforts for the Lockport Y’s new building on Snyder Drive in the Town of Lockport.

The statement reiterated that the YMCA will no longer offer services at its current East Avenue location once the Snyder Drive project is built.

As The Buffalo News reported in May, the Buffalo Y signed a two-year management agreement to take control of the Lockport Y, looking toward a possible merger as of Feb. 1, 2016.

However, that deal remains conditional on successful fundraising for the Snyder Drive project.

Kathy Romanowski, communications director for the YMCA Buffalo Niagara, said the price estimate for the new building is now $14 million, which is $4 million more than when it was first proposed in 2006.

The size of the new building will be somewhat smaller than the original 70,000-square-foot proposal, with the reduction being in the size of the gymnasium, Lockport YMCA Director Mark W. Albiez said in May.

Romanowski said the YMCA wants to raise $10 million of the $14 million price, with the rest coming from the YMCA’s own reserves.

She said the fund drive will target primarily corporations and foundations, “but every little bit helps.”

Romanowski wouldn’t say how much already has been raised. The Lockport YMCA had $6.2 million in pledges before the stock market tanked in the fall of 2008.

When the project was announced originally, city leaders ranging from then-Mayor Michael W. Tucker to prominent downtown Lockport property owner David L. Ulrich criticized the YMCA’s plan to abandon downtown.

Monday, Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey said she was concerned about the “loss of services” for city kids, some of whom can walk to the current YMCA.

“My main concern is finding a reuse for that building that is a good fit for Main Street,” the mayor said.

The YMCA’s news release said, “While previous development plans included the continued use of the existing 1926 East Avenue YMCA building, the Y has found that significant and cost-prohibitive updates would need to be made to this 88-year-old building in order to comply with today’s Americans with Disabilities Act standards and also improve accessibility for families, seniors, and persons with disabilities.”

A lack of dedicated parking also is considered a drawback. There is limited on-street parking, and a very small YMCA lot, but many customers park behind the Y in a municipal lot which is shared by the Lockport Public Library, and, as of next month, by the new Cornerstone Arena.

McCaffrey said she had heard of someone who was interested in taking over the existing YMCA building a few months ago, but that seems to have fallen through. Romanowski said there is nothing firm on the table now for the East Avenue site.

The YMCA statement said, “A recent market feasibility study indicates that the proposed new YMCA has the potential to attract approximately 10,000 individual members. Recent experience with newly built YMCAs would indicate that our two largest membership categories would be comprised of families and seniors. The Y’s programming would be reflective of these populations.”

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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