Mount Desert Island YMCA seeks expansion, property changes

Posted July 05, 2012, at 7:03 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — The local YMCA is looking to expand its Park Street operations center but some of the land where the building would expand would have to be rezoned and swap hands if the project is to move forward, according to YMCA officials.

Kim Harty, executive director of the Mount Desert Island YMCA, and Dean Read, the YMCA’s capital campaign chairman and former board president, met Tuesday with the Town Council to discuss the project. The YMCA has a 99-year lease for a nominal sum on the Park Street parcel where the YMCA building is located and hopes to add some of the adjacent properties to that same lease, she said.

Harty said Thursday that the YMCA owns a lot on Edgewood Street immediately behind the YMCA building that it leases to MDI Hospital for parking. This parcel currently is residentially zoned, Harty said, and would have to be rezoned in order for the YMCA to expand its building onto it.

The YMCA hopes to build a warm-water therapy pool, adult locker rooms and family locker rooms on this lot, which is about one-third of an acre.

The YMCA also hopes to expand on its east side toward Main Street, Harty added. The first floor of that addition would house a new child care center and separate spaces for seniors and teens to congregate. On the second floor of the addition, a new fitness room would be built. The existing fitness room, which is on the second floor, would be converted to an exercise room so the existing multipurpose room, which is used for exercise classes, could be made available for other uses. The expansion and renovation project also would include construction of a conference room that could be used by outside groups.

According to a memo Harty and Read provided to the town, how the east side addition might take shape depends on whether the YMCA might be able to acquire some adjacent property from Bangor Hydro-Electric Company, which owns a utility building on Edgewood Street. The YMCA hopes Bangor Hydro might donate some land, provided any possible environmental issues on the donated land are remediated. The YMCA then would donate that land to the town before building on it.

Voters would have to approve the proposed rezoning of the Edgewood Street parcel currently owned by the YMCA as well as accept the donations of the adjacent properties to the town for the project to move forward as envisioned, according to officials.

“We’re hoping to get it on the November [2012] ballot,” she said.

Harty said the overall expansion project likely would increase the building size by 40 percent. The cost and design of the project has not yet been determined, she said.

“It’s all over the place right now,” she said of the project estimates.

Harty said the YMCA hopes to raise the money needed for the project through a capital campaign. Resident Steward Brecher has been hired to be the lead architect on the project, she said.

Harty said if all the zoning and possible land transfers move ahead, the YMCA would shoot to have the project completed in the next two or three years. How long it takes to build will depend on how long it takes to raise the needed funds, she said.

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