YMCA shares vision for first satellite facility

June 12, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Wayne Mowrey of Chambersburg, Pa., on Sunday places three documents in a time capsule for the renovation of the former Coldbrook Elementary School in Chambersburg. Mowrey's wife, Jane, taught kindergarten at the school. A program from the school's opening ceremonies in 1955 was among his choices for the time capsule.
By Jennifer Fitch/Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Chambersburg Memorial YMCA board members and staff on Sunday hosted a community event and shared their vision for a satellite facility at the former Coldbrook Elementary School, which faces $1.25 million worth of renovations.

The YMCA is soliciting donations for the construction project that could start in two to three months. The former elementary school will reopen as the William K. Nitterhouse Family Program Center with four preschool classrooms, two program centers, family locker rooms and administrative offices.

“Our outdoor vision is just as exciting as our indoors vision,” said Dave Matthews, executive director of the Chambersburg Memorial YMCA.

The center will have two playgrounds, a pavilion with grills, athletic fields, basketball courts, a fitness trail and an organic garden, Matthews said.

The organic garden is “very exciting and a current thing to be doing with the children from a curriculum standpoint. ... It’s part of our mission to teach kids to be green or to be caretakers of the Earth,” he said.

Coldbrook Elementary School closed at the end of the 2009-10 academic year. The YMCA purchased the facility from the Chambersburg Area School District for $387,000, according to Matthews.

“The (school) district and Y share a lot of common values in the education of young people,” said Eric Michael, an assistant superintendent in the Chambersburg Area School District.

Michael said the school was built in the mid-1950s for $255,000 and had 7,000 graduates. The Chambersburg Area School Board closed the building rather than tackle renovations and sent the children to larger elementary schools.

“We have to raise the money to make it work,” Matthews said of the Y’s vision.

Board solicitations and early fundraising already generated 30 percent of the $1.25 million goal, officials said.

Chambersburg Memorial YMCA Board President John Boozer said there will be a focus on sustainability regarding the renovated building’s energy usage. The William K. Nitterhouse Family YMCA Program Center, which is the Chambersburg Y’s first satellite facility, will use solar thermal energy, including equipment made by Chambersburg business EarthNet Energy.

Boozer talked to a tour group of children about harnessing power from natural elements.

“We’re going to use what’s around us,” he said.

Alexis Coulson, Natalie Stacey, Evan Misal, Leah Stacey, Taylor Connor, Cirsten Kelly, Honesty Spriggs and some of their friends explored the building. They gathered at an American flag remaining in one former classroom and said the Pledge of Allegiance.

“We used to go to school here. It’s sad,” said Taylor, 13.

“I wish the school was still open,” said Cirsten, 13.

Still, the youths said they are excited to use the new playground equipment and other offerings.

“At least it’s not closing down,” said Alexis, 13.

Don Baker of Chambersburg’s King Street Church serves on the YMCA board. He said he finds statistics on the “state of childhood” troubling.

“For many of our young people today, childhood is a state they can’t wait to get out of, and I find that tragic. ... Children will be known and loved here, recognized for their limitless worth,” he said.

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