Group gets preview of YMCA project

A rendering of the Watertown Family YMCA’s community center on Arsenal Street.

WATERTOWN — The Watertown Family YMCA has received a $9 million boost it needed for its planned community and aquatic center in the former call center on Arsenal Street.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., on Thursday night announced the YMCA project received a $9 million federal Department of Defense grant to convert the former Convergys call center into the community center.

Earlier in the evening, Sen. Schumer received a notification letter from the DOD’s Office of Economic Adjustment that the project was funded through its Community Infrastructure Pilot program.

Denise K. Young, CEO of the Watertown YMCA, was ecstatic after hearing the news on Thursday night.

“That’s wonderful news,” she said. “I’m thrilled that the project can move forward.”

The $18.1 million community center will consist of a six-lane lap pool, a separate full-size recreational pool and several other amenities. The YMCA plans to buy about 60,000 square feet of space in the former call center for $500,000.

Local officials have described the project as a catalyst for economic growth and could be a game changer for downtown.

David J. Zembiec, Jefferson County Economic Development deputy CEO and Advocate Drum board member, said the project is the shot in the arm that downtown needs as the local economy still recovers from the coronavirus.

“I think it’s going to be huge for downtown,” he said.

That’s because people won’t only go to the new community center, he said, but they’ll also patronage downtown businesses during their visit.

The YMCA could not seek the grant itself because the program required that a governmental entity needs to apply, so the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency applied for the matching grant on behalf of the YMCA for the project.

Construction was planned to begin by the end of 2020, but the coronavirus stopped its momentum — until now.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(1) comment


Awesome news! Thank you Sen. Schumer.

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