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YMCA to build in North End

April 17, 1998|By GUY FLETCHER

The Hagerstown YMCA has signed a contract to purchase 33 acres of land on Eastern Boulevard that will be the site of the organization's new home, an official said Thursday.

The $600,000 contract with GEMCO, a local development group, to purchase the land across the street from the Douglas A. Fiery Funeral Home includes an option to purchase an adjacent 15 acres for $400,000, according to YMCA board President James G. Pierne.

Pierne said having a specific location is crucial as the organization begins working to raise the more than $6 million needed to fund the project.

"It's going to be important for people to know that we have a site," Pierne said.

Some Hagerstown officials had wanted the YMCA to move to the city-owned Fairgrounds property.

But YMCA officials said the Eastern Boulevard site is preferable because of its proximity to its members and the possibility of restrictions at the Fairgrounds location.

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The YMCA said earlier this year it is moving most of its athletic and community-service programs from its 149 N. Potomac St. location, which officials said is too small and is hurting membership. They also said members have expressed safety concerns about having to walk through the surrounding neighborhood, especially in the evening.

The new center would include a 57,000-square-foot building with two pools, two gymnasiums, a fitness center, a child care center, teen and senior facilities, and meeting rooms and administrative offices. There would also be room for ball fields and parking.

Construction could start by in late 1999 or early 2000, with the facility opening in 2001, Pierne said.

Pierne said the YMCA has until February 1999 to close on the 33-acre contract. The 15-acre option can be exercised until June 1999.

The YMCA is trying to raise $5 million for the project from private donors, both corporate and individuals, Pierne said. Up to another $1.5 million could be raised through a combination of city, county and state funding, he said.

Meanwhile, a group of local government and business leaders have been meeting to discuss the future of the existing building, Pierne said. The group is considering having some YMCA programs remain at the site, along with other uses, he said.

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