I n response to a decade of steady membership growth, theYMCA has broken ground on a major expansion of its Oak Tree Road location.
William Lovett, CEO of the YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge and SouthAmboy, celebrated the groundbreaking on Feb. 21 with other YMCA officials, members of the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Middlesex County, Edison Mayor Antonia Ricigliano, and state Assemblymen Peter Barnes III and Patrick Diegnan (DMiddlesex).
“Ultimately, I hope to look back years from now and see this expansion and see how it has impacted the community,” said Lovett, who is retiring later this month. “We are good friends with the JCC [which shares space at the YMCA] and we have worked together to send the message that Edison is the kind of community we want to be in.” Lovett said, looking around, that one will see faces of every culture at the Y.
“We have had great support from the state Legislature, down to the local level,” he said. “I look forward to seeing this go forward.”
PJR Construction of New Jersey was selected as the building contractor after a bidding process in 2011.
According to the YMCA, the 6,000-square-foot expansion will increase the Edison Branch YMCA’s ability to provide state-ofthe art wellness and recreation services to the citizens of Edison and to YMCA members of all ages; provide over a 50 percent increase in space, effectively doubling the size of the Edison Branch YMCA’s current wellness space; complement the existing wellness center and create new spaces for young adults, teens and beginning exercisers; and include additional classroom space to provide new programming opportunities for members.
Cindi Archambault, executive director of the Edison Branch YMCA, said the expansion will cater to niche users who are currently not being accommodated as well as the YMCA would like.
The successful fundraising campaign for the expansion was led by three co-chairs: Lucinda Florio, former first lady of New Jersey and president-elect of the YMCA Board of Directors; Jun Choi, former mayor of Edison and a former member of the YMCABoard of Directors; and Assemblyman Barnes.
“Since December of 2002, when the Edison Branch YMCA at the Community Campus opened its doors in a unique collaboration with the Jewish Community Center of Middlesex County, membership had grown steadily and now exceeds 8,000 adults and children,” said Florio. “We recognized that as our membership grew, our facility must grow in order for us to better serve our members and the community.”
Florio said she was thankful to the more than 150 donors and supporters who stood behind the important project.
“Their commitment to our work in the community has allowed us to make this dream a reality,” she said.
Barnes said the expansion has been a community effort, and Diegnan added that the community came together in a time when the need to expand was greater than ever.
“The Y’s motto is ‘Build a Better Tomorrow’ … this is a little more than that with this unique partnership,” Diegnan said.
Ricigliano said the unity between all is important.
“The rich collaboration between the YMCA and the JCC is unique,” she said. “They did not want to burden the members and interacted with each other and the municipality. There was no segregation; it has been wonderful.”
Dorothy Rubinstein, executive director of the JCC, said that this has been an historic collaboration between two organizations.
“This can be a positive role model on how we treat and respect one another together,” she said. “If the people in the world work and live based on how we worked together on this collaboration, this world would be a better place. The people involved have been passionate, and the community as a whole has been wonderful.”