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Pittsfield YMCA Makeover Expected to Start This Summer
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
02:35AM / Friday, March 26, 2021
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Top: original design Bottom: revised design to match historical landscape.

Executive Director Jessica Rumlow updates the Community Development Board on the YMCA's renovation plans.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Family YMCA hopes to "put shovels in the ground" over the summer to begin an $11.2 million overhaul of the historic site that has called North Street home for over a hundred years.

The renovation will include facade improvements, an expanded day-care center, a new fitness center and elevated running track, and a new regulation-sized basketball court. The expansions aim to better meet the needs of the community.

Executive Director Jessica Rumlow told the Community Preservation Committee on Monday that the projected closing date is June 30.  

"This is our third round coming to you guys," she said to the panel. "But we are moving forward with this and are very optimistic that this summer we will be able to put shovels in the ground and start the renovation of this project."

In 2019, the organization announced plans to overhaul the interior of the building and restore large windows on the front and side exterior to increase the amount of space in all areas for expanded programming while preserving the architectural landscape.

The work aimed to restore the appearance of the original 1909 building and modernize it, re-opening bricked over windows on the Melville Street side that were covered in the 1960s. This was said to be done for heat retention.

The original plan was to install large, modern, glass windows on the North Street facing side of the building that was constructed in 1980, but after receiving concerned feedback claiming the look may be too modern, they reworked the design plan to include windows that mimic the building's 1909 design.  

"Our historic side of the building, so the left side of our building, was built in 1909. And at this point, we've determined that in order to maintain our facility and to keep it updated we needed to go into a capital project to address some of the concerns in the 1909 building," Rumlow explained.

"It's taken heavy use over the years and there's been a toll even with the other 1980 expansion, which includes our current fitness center and our basketball court. It's structurally sound and able to be modernized to the 21st century standards so that's why we decided to move forward. We're committed also to Pittsfield revitalization and feel like this project really fits with what Pittsfield is trying to do with North Street and we're a key anchor to North Street that operates seven days a week."  

When Rumlow became CEO, the project budget was at $5 million and has since been raised to $11.2 million. The costs are split about 50/50 between the historic side of the building that includes the day-care center and fitness center and the side of the building constructed in 1980.

The project has been granted around $185,000 in Community Preservation Act funds and is seeking another $90,000. Around $7 million of the funding needed has been secured, with the intention of raising the full amount.

Berkshire Family YMCA is currently working with Mass Development and The Life Initiative (TLI) for financing. Mass Development has committed to supporting the project's finances and TLI will go to the board on April 1.

The YMCA has also received a commitment from Community Reinvestment Fund of Minneapolis for $12 million in New Market Tax Credits, which amounts to $3.2 million in actual revenue, and US Bank is the investor.

To promote the project that will renovate 80 percent of the Pittsfield YMCA's facilities, a capital campaign called Full of Possibilities was launched in 2020.

With the expansion, the day care will be able to accommodate 35 more children with the addition of a new infant room, a new toddler room, and an expansion of the preschool area to maximize capacity.  Athletics capabilities will also be expanded for both seniors and young people.  

"There's so much need for expansion of programs," Matthew Scarafoni, a member of the board of directors, said. "Whether it's athletic or whether it's helping kids with their situations with the parents not being around and or having parents that are divorced and having visitation rights. So really our goal was to not only deal with our building, but it was more important to deal with a huge amount of needs in the community."

Rumlow reported that the facility has not received a major renovation since the 1980s and has since retrofitted the building to meet the needs, though it's "not the best layout." She said the home base basketball court is a big piece for the Berkshire Family YMCA, as it merged with the Catholic Youth Center (CYC) three years ago and has had a pretty robust basketball program they've had to outsource to other community agencies in order to run.  

The elevated running track, she said, will be the first community based running track in Berkshire County and the YMCA is looking at partnerships with Berkshire Health Systems and other health entities.

"The elevated running track definitely meets the needs of our seniors in the wintertime when, you know, the mall is closed, so there's no walking the mall anymore and this provides a safe place for them to be able to continue their exercise," Rumlow said.

Rumlow said updating the air handling system was in the original plans and just happens to fit the needs of the postCOVID-19 pandemic world. They also added hand washing stations for the child-care unit and switched all water fountains to water bottle filler units.

"We've had a lot of moving targets and a lot of challenges that have come up in 2020," She concluded. "So I'm just really excited that we're at this point in the project to somewhat confidently say, I think we're on target for the summer to be able to start this project at this point."

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