HARRODSBURG — Mayor Eddie Long didn’t waste any time in buttering up Tuesday’s guest of honor on the front steps of the Wilderness Trace Family YMCA.
“Every time he comes to town, good things happen,” Long said in welcoming Gov. Steve Beshear.
The “good thing” Beshear brought to Harrodsburg on Tuesday was a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant that will help transform the city’s outdated YMCA facility — built in 1942 as a National Guard armory — into the heartbeat of what Commissioner of Local Development Tony Wilder described as “health and wellness and family togetherness.”
Beshear pointed out the recent expansions at Hitachi, Corning and Wausau Paper as signs that Harrodsburg is a healthy community in terms of growth and economic development.
“You’ve got a long list of very good things that have happened for you. This Y is another good thing,” the governor said. “If you don’t have places like this where people can exercise and take classes, part of your community is missing. It’s going to make this a better place to call home. We’re happy to put $500,000 into this project.”
Interim YMCA director Sage Cutler said the CDBG money will be used to put a wellness center, featuring exercise machines and workout equipment, in the basement, which is currently being used for storage. The second floor will be revamped to include locker rooms and showers, and the gymnasium floor will be resurfaced. Also, air conditioning will be installed, which Cutler said is important, because the building currently receives little use in the summer heat.
On the exterior, more parking will be added, and the building will be made handicapped accessible.
Cutler called the project “huge” for the YMCA’s ability to better serve a larger segment of the community. Now, programs are geared almost entirely to kids from low-income families whose scholarships are provided through the Y’s own fundraising efforts and governmental assistance. The new and improved facility will be able to offer family memberships at rates less expensive than private health clubs, enticing more folks into healthier lifestyles.
“A lot of people can’t afford to belong to those facilities,” he said.
The $500,000 grant makes up less than half of the $1.2 million needed to complete Phase One of the project. Cutler said a major fundraising campaign will begin in the fall to bring in the rest of the money.
“We’re still 11⁄2 years away from fruition,” he said.