YMCA: New out­door cen­ter will pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties

“T

The Covington News - - SPORTS -

will be quite unique, and will be open to the pub­lic most of the time. But the good thing is you don’t even have to own a Y mem­ber­ship to en­joy the spa­cious fields.

“It’s a re­ally big deal to us,” said Chism. “We just feel good about the fact that it’s not just for Y mem­bers. This has got a much deeper mean­ing to the com­mu­nity, and that’s pretty good for us. We’re not only do­ing some­thing that helps the Y, but it also helps the com­mu­nity.”

The com­plex will in­clude two new soc­cer fields ca­pa­ble of sup­port­ing hun­dreds of ath­letes, more than dou­bling the Y’s cur­rent ca­pac­ity. In ad­di­tion, it will in­clude a mul­tiuse trail over one mile long, a com­mu­nity play­ground called “Mary Beth’s Place,” ten­nis courts and two multi-use fields, in­clud­ing “Chase Cain Me­mo­rial Field.”

The Y has been try­ing to get the park de­vel­oped since 2005, when it was still search­ing for land. Ap­prox­i­mately 18 months ago it re­ceived the Arnold Fund, which agreed to do­nate the land through a long-term lease. In March, the Y got the re-zon­ing fin­ished to pro­ceed with build­ing, and since then it’s been work­ing on plans and struc­tur­ing the cap­i­tal cam­paigns.

The Y, which has a task force to help raise the money, be­gan its cap­i­tal cam­paign

his is unique in the sense that we’re not look­ing at it from a mem­ber­ship stand­point. It’s not nec­es­sar­ily go­ing to en­hance our mem­ber­ship; it’s go­ing to en­hance our com­mu­nity, and that’s the goal.”

($3 mil­lion) last month and has al­ready raised $601,000. In fact, BB&T do­nated $350,000 to the fa­cil­ity. How­ever, the Y has a re­main­ing $2.4 mil­lion to raise be­fore be­ing able to build the en­tire com­plex.

“I think the ones on our board who are the most ex­cited re­al­ize that New­ton County is be­hind (us) on hav­ing some­thing like this,” said Cov­ing­ton YMCA mem­ber­ship di­rec­tor Louly HayKapp. “Even if they don’t have chil­dren (who) are go­ing to be in our pro­grams, it’s some­thing for ev­ery­body.”

Ini­tially, the Y started look­ing for soc­cer space. Cur­rently and rather in­con­ve­niently, prac­tices and games are held at three dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing two churches and Le­gion Field. Ap­prox­i­mately 450 kids are en­rolled in the youth soc­cer pro­gram, but this num­ber should more than dou­ble once the new park opens.

Af­ter find­ing out what the Arnold Fund had avail­able and re­al­iz­ing that the vast

— Michael Chism Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Cov­ing­ton YMCA

room was much more than a soc­cer com­plex, the wheels be­gan to turn in mo­tion.

“It was more of the need (that) pushed the idea,” said Chism. “We had a soc­cer pro­gram not ca­pa­ble of grow­ing based on its cur­rent space. We weren’t look­ing for this kind of a prop­erty, but this is what the Arnold Fund had avail­able.”

Be­sides, soc­cer, other new ac­tiv­i­ties will be in­tro­duced, in­clud­ing lacrosse, flag foot­ball, ten­nis and sports camps.

“We plan to have a sum­mer camp, and there may be parts of the park closed dur­ing times like that,” said Chism. “But gen­er­ally speak­ing you should be able to do any­thing.”

Al­though the Y will con­trol ac­cess to the fa­cil­ity, on any given day one should be able to drive out there and en­joy a pic­nic, walk the trails or even throw a Fris­bee.

“We need this,” said HayKapp, “es­pe­cially in a com­mu­nity like ours that is so unique and has so many good peo­ple in it.”

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