Parkview Family YMCA sees plenty of growth in new facility’s 10 years

Jill Gradeless (left) and Todd Latta, the senior program director and associate executive director, respectively, at the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA, pause from their work at the facility on Monday, Nov. 5. Today, Thursday, Nov. 8, the YMCA celebrates 10 years in its new building. Photo by Steve Clark.
Jill Gradeless (left) and Todd Latta, the senior program director and associate executive director, respectively, at the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA, pause from their work at the facility on Monday, Nov. 5. Today, Thursday, Nov. 8, the YMCA celebrates 10 years in its new building. Photo by Steve Clark. Photo by Steve Clark.

The Parkview Huntington Family YMCA celebrates its 10th anniversary today, Thursday, Nov. 8.

While the facility has been around for a decade now, there are still some items in it that trace their origins back to the establishment that it replaced, the Huntington YMCA.

Among those items? The spin bikes.

“Those have been holdovers from the old Y,” notes Ben Davis, CEO and executive director of the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA. “So, we have spin bikes that are more than 10 years old – which is way longer than their anticipated lifespan.”

While the previous YMCA and the current one may have spin bikes in common, that’s about where the commonalities end. In virtually every other area, the present YMCA has changed from its predecessor.

It’s change that’s been positive. The current YMCA opened on Nov. 8, 2008, at 1160W-500N, Huntington, replacing the county’s original YMCA, which began operating in 1930 at the corner of Park Drive and Warren Street in downtown Huntington. The present facility boasts approximately 56,000 square feet across two, elevator-connected levels, whereas the previous facility’s square footage was divided across three floors, which were connected by stairs.

The current YMCA, says Davis, has facilitated the growth of programs that existed at the time of the transition, while also giving rise to entirely new ones. The YMCA’s School of Dance, for example, was founded at the previous facility in 2001 and has grown exponentially since moving into the new building. Once featuring only a handful of participants, the program now boasts 260 dancers, instruction in eight styles of dance and over 30 classes a week.

“It’s a major program for us and involves a lot of kids and a lot of families,” observes Davis. “And that’s something that just barely existed at the old Y. There wouldn’t have been the space to put a program like that at the old Y.”

The success of the School of Dance prompted the YMCA to offer another fine arts program, the School of Music. In this program, participants have the opportunity to learn how to play the piano, guitar, violin and more.

“That’s an example of something new that’s grown out of an existing program in the time that we’ve been at the new Y,” states Davis.

Aside from the fine arts, Davis adds that the YMCA has gotten into martial arts programming, too, since coming to the current facility.

While the scope and breadth of the YMCA’s programming has changed over the past 10 years, so has the facility itself. Just within the last year, Davis notes that one of the building’s meeting rooms has been converted into a space for children and preteens called “The Hangout.”

“It’s a good place for kids to do homework, to read, play games and gives them something to do if the gym is full or the pool is full or if it’s right after school,” he explains.

One of the facility’s racquetball courts was changed, too. Instead of serving as a court, it has a new lease on life as a movement studio that will accommodate both dance and martial arts classes.

The building’s natatorium. named after celebrated Huntington YMCA swim coach Glen Hummer, has undergone changes as well. This year, a patio was built outside the pool area, giving YMCA members a place where they can step outside the facility and enjoy the sun. Inside the natatorium, Davis says the space has been visually refreshed with new paint, plus banners and pictures that pay tribute to Hummer’s highly successful swimmers and swim teams.

Ultimately, one of the big reasons why the YMCA’s decade-long tenure in its new facility has been a fruitful one, says Davis, is because of the continuity in the organization’s leadership staff.

“Many of them have been here since we first moved in,” he remarks. “It means they have a lot of history, not just with the facility, but with the programs and, most importantly, with the members and the people that we’re serving.”

Davis also credits the facility’s success to the community’s support. He’s grateful, in particular, for individuals who have been members of the new YMCA since it opened. Referring to those individuals as “charter members,” Davis says their loyalty has been commemorated in the form of a permanent banner that bears their names. The banner will be unveiled at a 10-year anniversary ceremony today, Nov. 8, at the YMCA.

As much as he’s looking forward to revealing the banner at the ceremony, Davis is equally enthusiastic about disclosing what one of the YMCA’s next improvements is going to be – the old spin bikes will, at long last, be getting replaced.

“Our members,” says Davis, “are going to be excited.”