Chatham County in partnership with the West Broad Street YMCA recently sought grant funds to aid in the renovation of the YMCA facility. Thanks to the support of Senator Jon Ossoff, they have successfully secured a federal grant of $642,000 earmarked for Phase 1 of the restoration project, specifically targeting the pool area.  In recent years the pool has fallen into disrepair resulting in the cancellation of swim lessons, water safety education, and recreational swimming.

“Learning how to swim as well as learning water safety awareness is paramount for our children. The death rate from drowning is higher among African American children more than any other group in our society. We're looking forward to offering swimming lessons and water safety education to all ages and segments of our community,” stated James Riles a Board Member of the West Broad YMCA

The facility serves the communities on the west side of Savannah and is one of six remaining heritage YMCA sites left in the country. “Currently, we house an early learning day program for 80 children, six weeks to four years old. Before and after school care, summit summer camp, enrichment programs, senior line dance and step aerobics, soccer, football and basketball.  Well over 80 children receive three well balanced, nutritional meals on a daily basis,” says Joe Bell Jr., Chairman of the West Broad Street YMCA Board of Directors. He also said the financial resources announced on Wednesday will allow the West Broad Street YMCA to continue to thrive.

Phase I, focusing on the pool, represents just the beginning of a comprehensive three-phase renovation plan for the facility. Beyond addressing the pool, upcoming upgrades encompass installing new roofs for buildings, updating HVAC systems, revamping the gym and interior spaces, and enhancing outdoor lighting for evening events. The estimated cost for all three phases ranges from $1.9 to 2.5 million.

Chairman Chester A. Ellis speaking at the announcement event, shared his involvement in the project, which was inspired by the late Commissioner Gator Rivers. Ellis related Rivers' belief in the necessity of establishing a Resource Center, prompting his commitment to the initiative. Ellis also noted that the planned improvements include the Gator River Resource Center.

Wrapping up the announcement event, Chairman Ellis was able to share “between our Federal partners, our County partners, our City partners, and the private sector, we have commitments for the $2.5 million dollars”.

Missed the announcement event? Watch it here: