The Westport Weston Family Y held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday afternoon for the much-anticipated new facility to be built on the Y’s 32-acre Camp Mahackeno campus just north of downtown Westport.
The groundbreaking marks one of the most significant days in the 90 year history of the Westport / Weston Family Y as well as an important day for the entire Westport / Weston community, said Family Y Board of Trustees Chairman James Marpe.
The first stage of construction will be a 54,000 square foot facility that will include a 10-lane lap pool and warm-water family teaching pool, expansive health & wellness center, gymnasium for multiple sports and activities, three large group-fitness studios, and a kids’ adventure gym area. The new Y is expected to open in November 2014.
“The Y has always served as a center of community life and wellness for our local citizens of all ages,” Marpe said. “Today, we are taking a very important next step in assuring that our mission of community center and wellness continues, not just for the current generation of those who live and work in our towns, but also for future generations of local families for decades to come.”
Located amid 32 acres of scenic woodlands and open space along the banks of the Saugatuck River, Camp Mahackeno is part of Westport history. Founded in 1938 as a “stay at home camp” for boys, the property remains rugged and rustic, as befits its original role three centuries ago as a summer lodge and hunting grounds for a Native American chief and his tribe.
“No significant building project proceeds without much discussion, debate and an incredible amount of planning and compromise before arriving at consensus and community approval… While there were, and are, differences in opinion among some members of our community regarding what we are about to build, we should all be proud that we arrived at this moment through a process that allowed all voices to be heard and all concerns to be vetted and addressed,” Marpe said.
The former downtown YMCA property could be the location of a new mixed-use downtown-shopping complex. The Bedford Square Associates already have a contract to buy the YMCA building when the organization moves to its new Mahackeno location.
Last year the Planning and Zoning Commission rejected an application by the Bedford Square Associates to re-zone the property at 35 Church Lane, which is owned by the Bedford Square Associates and located adjacent to the YMCA.