Story, video, and photos by Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
The last speaker at Thursday’s West Seattle YMCA expansion groundbreaking celebration, member Michelle Silver, used that term for her enthusiastic view of the Y, whose director Josh Sutton picked it up and ran with it.
It was perfect for the energy and enthusiasm that marked the event outside the Triangle headquarters of the Y (a longtime WSB sponsor).
Though members of the Y board posed for the top photo, this wasn’t really a groundbreaking about, well, breaking ground – the shovels were mostly for fun:
Major work on the Y’s long-in-the-works expansion had started last week with demolition of the old Youth Programs building. The event was more a chance to honor those who made the project possible, and to celebrate a side benefit, the new “festival street” designation for SW Snoqualmie in front of the Y, recently finalized and used for the first time for this party, which included a bouncy house, free barbecue, and even the West Seattle High School Band:
And it was a chance to recap what the expansion will bring – Sutton hit the highlights: “When this project is done, we’ll have a whole new Y from the outside and new tools to help the community.” They include a meeting room, kitchen, expanded fitness space, new family room with “active play for all ages,” a new cycling room. (More details here.)
With its perch in the West Seattle Triangle, part of the “urban village” at the heart of the peninsula, and within walking distance of thousands of new apartments, the Y also has to have its eye on the future. That was noted by Mark Tabbutt, who spoke after Sutton’s introduction, a West Seattleite representing the Greater Seattle Y’s board.
“There’s a ton of new people coming in – this organization, this Y, is going to be a big part of drawing those people in.”
Without money to pay for the expansion, it wouldn’t be happening, and about $800,000 came from the state, so the program included an area legislator, 34th District State Senator Sharon Nelson.
“Why should the state support this?” she asked rhetorically. “Because it’s about youth and families.”
From the WS Y board, Scott Hitchcock hailed the “hard work” by so many, over the decade it took for this to become reality:
Those gathered in the new “festival street” also heard from Dino Vasquez and Steve Sundquist, co-chairs of the capital campaign. Sundquist, a former Seattle School Board member, voiced appreciation for the Y’s work at local schools.
A donor whose family made the first gift to the campaign, Sue Chamberlain, recalled her membership dating back 30 years, when she said she walked into the Y with her then-1-year-old son. The Y goes back almost a century here, she said, so those enabling its expansion are “continuing a great legacy.”
Gratitude was threaded through all the speeches, not just for those who gave money, but for those who gave time.
But the show was stolen by final speaker Michelle Silver, from the moment Sutton introduced her while making note that Silver was wearing a Cleveland Cavaliers T-shirt and obviously had to get home in time for the game. First, here’s some of what she described, memorably, as Y-Tastic:
The speeches wrapped up, and the party continued for guests of all ages.
Here’s what happens next, according to a timeline Sutton shared: The main building stays open throughout the project, Later this month, the entrance will move to the festival-street side. More changes will be ahead in August, when the first Y-hosted West Seattle Outdoor Movies screening will happen (last one of this year’s season, before the entire series moves next year). Then a new entrance is expected in October, and more of the new building will be open around Thanksgiving, with the project largely wrapped up by year’s end, meaning that 2017, in Sutton’s words, will bring a “new Y for a new year.”