Amherst YMCA, largest in area, wants to ex­pand

The Buffalo News - - CITY&REGION - By Stephen T. Wat­son NEWS STAFF RE­PORTER

The Buf­falo Ni­a­gara YMCA plans an ex­pan­sion of its In­de­pen­dent Health Fam­ily Branch in Amherst that in­cludes of­fice space and an out­door play­ground and sports court.

The $24.6 mil­lion fa­cil­ity on Tech Drive near the Erie Com­mu­nity Col­lege North Cam­pus that opened in Jan­uary 2013 re­mains the largest YMCA branch in the re­gion.

Of­fi­cials say the agency would move its ad­min­is­tra­tive staff from leased space in Cheek­towaga to the ex­panded 7 6 5 1 0 of­fice space in Amherst if the fi­nan­cials make sense.

“Right now, we’re in the ex­ploratory phase,” said Matthew J. Shriver, the YMCA’s vice pres­i­dent for ad­min­is­tra­tion and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer.

The In­de­pen­dent Health Fam­ily Branch at 150 Tech Drive of­fered ex­ten­sive ameni­ties for mem­bers and their chil­dren when it opened six years ago.

It has more mem­bers than any other YMCA branch, at roughly 20,800, Shriver said.

The build­ing also pro­vides space for In­de­pen­dent Health,

YMCA

pri­mar­ily used dur­ing Medi­care open en­roll­ment pe­ri­ods, and for Buf­falo Re­hab Group.

The YMCA has filed an ap­pli­ca­tion with the Amherst Plan­ning Board for a two-story, 12,000-square­foot ex­pan­sion of its ex­ist­ing 97,000-square-foot build­ing.

The glass-en­closed ad­di­tion would be con­structed on the north­west cor­ner of the build­ing. The new of­fices would house the 20 em­ploy­ees who now work out of the YMCA’s space at 301 Cayuga Road in Cheek­towaga.

Shriver said that lease is up in about 18 months and the agency is look­ing at whether it’s more cost ef­fec­tive to move into space it would build and own.

To the east of the branch build­ing, the YMCA would con­struct an 1,800-square­foot, en­closed play­ground with a rub­ber­ized sur­face and a court for bas­ket­ball and other sports.

Shriver said the branch doesn’t have much of an out­door play area for chil­dren to use dur­ing sum­mer camp or at other times.

The plans also call for adding a stor­age shed to hold re­cre­ation equip­ment.

The YMCA hasn’t cal­cu­lated the cost of the pro­posed con­struc­tion. Ide­ally, Shriver said, if the agency de­cides to go ahead, the work would wrap up by the time the Cayuga Road lease is up next fall.

The town Plan­ning Board is sched­uled to hold a pub­lic hear­ing on the ap­pli­ca­tion on Thurs­day.

Derek Gee/Buf­falo News

Moun­tains of ice re­main piled up on the Lake Erie break­wa­ter in Buf­falo’s Outer Har­bor, rem­nants from last month’s his­toric wind storm.

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