By Marney Simon | Enterprise Staff
Thousands of visitors head through the doors of the C.W. Avery YMCA on Wallin Drive every day, utilizing the local non-profit facility for swimming, exercise, classes, and child care.
Now, the popular site just outside of downtown Plainfield is looking to renovate and expand, adding room for participants, programs, and outdoor activities.
“We have had a great run of success at the Avery Y, we’re 11 years old now, and we serve about 15,000 members,” said James Watts, president and CEO of the Greater Joliet Area YMCA. “Every day, we serve 900 children, in Kid Zone or before and after school care or summer day camp. The challenges that we’ve been facing over the last couple of years have been pinch points in the building due to the number of people we have.”
The Avery YMCA is 80,000 square feet, serving between 1,200 and 1,400 people on any given day.
“We’re pinched in the area of parking, in the fitness center, in the classrooms, and at the front desk.,” Watts said. “We believe it’s an urgent need for us to keep serving the people of Plainfield and the Will County area by expanding the Y.”
Renovation plans include expanding the current walking paths around the existing site to include gateways into outlying areas, and adding a storm shelter, storage area, and washrooms between the athletic fields.
Other adds include more multi-purpose rooms and a gym addition, a covered walkway, and a donor plaza.
Plans also include a splash pad and play area which would be situated next to a future hydrotherapy pool addition, which would coincide with rehabilitation facilities provided on site by Presence Health.
The renovation plan is mapped out as a multi-year project done in phases.
The first phase of the project would include a parking lot expansion to the north of the existing lot, as well as a fitness addition and Presence Health relocation.
The current parking lot has 234 spaces. The Y hopes to add 144 spaces to that, for a total of 378 spaces, including maintaining lighting standards and landscaping. The parking lot addition would be accessible from the existing lot entrance, and would not need entrance changes.
The building expansion plans would go along with the current architecture, but would incorporate more glass and steel elements.
The building addition would be roughly 11,300 square feet. The addition is being designed to look like an original part of the structure, as opposed to an add-on mimicking details of the current site.
The parking lot expansion is currently in the permitting process, and should start later this summer. The Y hopes to have plans for the building addition to the village for review by Aug. 1, so construction can begin by the end of September.
Officials with the Y said the changes would enhance the programs and opportunities the YMCA offers to Plainfield.
“We feel like we’re a great asset to the community, and if you’re ever at that Y, you can get a sense that it is a place where people tend to congregate and create community,” Watts said. “We believe it’s a great asset for the village.”
The YMCA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The focus of the Y is to provide programs and services that build healthy relationships among children, adults and families to strengthen the communities they serve.
“We don’t turn anybody away based on inability to pay,” Watts said. “That separates us from a lot of providers.
Village trustees were pleased with plans for expansion.
“We’re looking at a real jewel in Plainfield, to serve the residents in so many ways,” said Trustee Margie Bonuchi. “I’ve been on the advisory board for Avery, and it’s been my honor to work for them, because there are so many good things that come out of this.”
The C.W. Avery Family YMCA is one of five branches of the Y operated by the Greater Joliet Area YMCA non-profit organization, which has been serving Will County and its surrounding areas for more than 85 years. The Greater Joliet Area YMCA also includes Central City YMCA, Galowich Family YMCA, Morris Community YMCA, and Smith Family YMCA.