A planned YMCA in Wyandanch this week received $1 million from the state, but a $19 million funding gap remains for the project.
The YMCA will be located in the new 97,432 square-foot Wyandanch Health and Wellness Center, east of Wyandanch Plaza, along with Sun River Health, which will move from its site south of the LIRR station. The YMCA building was to be the third one constructed under the town’s first phase of the Wyandanch Rising redevelopment, but after two apartment buildings were finished in 2016, the town moved on with other aspects of the revitalization.
The nonprofit YMCA of Long Island, which oversees six facilities in Nassau and Suffolk, has been working to find funding since at least 2017, but with construction prices surging 40% since the pandemic, the estimated cost to build has risen to $60 million, Babylon Town Deputy Supervisor Tony Martinez said.
Sun River has secured $19 million in state and county money. The YMCA has accrued $4 million in private donations and helped the town obtain $18 million in federal, state and county funds toward the construction. The town's contribution includes $6 million of the $27.77 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act money it was awarded. The $19 million gap that remains will be covered at least in part by bonding from the town, because the YMCA “got hit hard” by the pandemic shutdown of gyms, Martinez said.
“We’re not making up the entire gap,” he said. “We will bond for some of it and will work tirelessly to find more funding.”
In an email, Anne Brigis, president and CEO of YMCA of Long Island, said the “historical lack of investment and development” in Wyandanch, which has nearly four times the poverty rate of the county according to the 2019 census, “has been a difficulty to overcome.”
“We are working closely with all the important stakeholders, including our benefactors and elected officials to bridge the funding gap,” Brigis wrote.
State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) this week announced the assembly will provide $1 million toward the YMCA. The money, which Assemb. Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Wheatley Heights) helped secure along with $4 million for the construction, will be used for programming, she said.
Jean-Pierre also introduced legislation to allow the town to use design-build in the construction, a procurement method not widely found on Long Island that uses one team to design and build large public projects rather than bidding out separately. The method has not been used by Long Island towns, said Babylon attorney Matthew McDonough, but has been utilized by the state and is often considered more efficient and cost-effective. Design-build also places the onus on the hired team, which must stick to promised costs and timelines, he said. The measure has passed the assembly and senate and, if approved by the governor, the town will be required to submit progress reports to the legislature, McDonough said.
Martinez said the facility, which will include the town’s only indoor pool that will be used to train lifeguards, offers benefits to all town residents while helping bring value to the Wyandanch community.
“Whenever a Y goes into an area, it’s a game changer,” he said.
Construction is expected to begin early next year, Martinez said.