National Grid Economic Development Programs Assist Watertown Family YMCA
An aging building at the gateway to downtown Watertown will become a state-of-the-art YMCA aquatics and community center with support from National Grid. Located on Arsenal Street, the building that once housed a call center will become an 89,000-square-foot activity center with a pool, sport courts, wellness center and classrooms. It’s scheduled to open in fall 2023.
“A healthy community is a thriving community,” said Alberto Bianchetti, regional director of customer and community engagement for National Grid. “Expanding wellness options for the Watertown community in the heart of the city will have a positive impact for generations.”
“We are so grateful for the support we have received to make this project a reality for our community,” said Denise Young, chief executive officer for the Watertown Family YMCA. “This is not about a building, but about what will happen inside it, improving lives for the next five generations.”
National Grid Customer and Community Engagement Manager Jerry Haenlin presents a ceremonial check to Denise Young, CEO of the Watertown Family YMCA, and Marshall Weir, Deputy CEO of Jefferson County Economic Development.
National Grid provided two grants for the project. The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency received a $300,000 grant from National Grid’s Brownfield Redevelopment program to remediate the building, which was built in the late 1960s. Extensive asbestos abatement was required to remove tiles from the throughout the building. Additionally, the adhesive used on the tiles were contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls. PCBs are harmful, human-made chemicals. When they exceed government-regulated thresholds, the buildings are deemed unsafe for use.
To rehabilitate the building, crews demolished interior walls, ceilings and mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and disposed of them. Additional work on concrete floors was performed to remove all traces of the toxins.
The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency led the $2 million remediation project, which was also supported by Jefferson County.
“Our involvement with this project begins with our longstanding, highly-productive relationship with the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency,” Bianchetti said.
A second grant in the amount of $250,000 was awarded directly to the Watertown Family YMCA to support construction and sitework related to the project. When completed, the $27.5 million facility will house a six-lane pool, capable of hosting competitive swimming events, a recreation pool, multiple indoor sport courts, indoor track, fitness center, classrooms and childcare facilities. The center is expected to attract 15,000 visitors per month and will also have dedicated parking for 350 vehicles. In addition to the National Grid grant, Empire State Development provided a capital grant for $3.6 million and the U.S. Department of Defense a $9 million Defense Communities Infrastructure Pilot Program grant to support military families at Fort Drum.
The Watertown Family YMCA has served the community since 1855. It’s aging downtown location, on nearby Washington Street, contains a 104-year-old swimming pool, limited classroom space and parking for only 12 vehicles.
“Instead of becoming an environmental hazard on the edge of downtown, Watertown will have a new community space aimed at improving the health and wellness of families,” Bianchetti said. “YMCAs are pillars of their communities and their vision of transforming this property is another way they make a positive impact on the places they serve.”
Construction underway at the Watertown Family YMCA site.
National Grid’s Economic Development Programs
Since 2003, National Grid’s 18 economic development programs have provided more than $125 million in assistance, helping to create or retain more than 60,000 jobs and supporting almost $10 billion in private and public investment across upstate New York. More information about National Grid’s suite of programs is available at www.shovelready.com.
Additionally, National Grid provides economic development support during the pandemic through its Manufacturing Productivity Program. The program fast tracks economic development requests to assist businesses that transitioned their facilities to produce critical medical equipment and supplies needed to fight COVID-19.
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