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North Adams Hopes to Transform Y Into Community Recreation Center
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
05:19AM / Thursday, May 02, 2024
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The city is making plans to reopen the pool at the YMCA and offer limited programming this summer.

Mayor Jennifer Macksey updates members of the former YMCA on the status of the roof project and plans for reopening. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city has plans to keep the former YMCA as a community center.
"The city of North Adams is very committed to having a recreation center not only for our youth but our young at heart," Mayor Jennifer Macksey said to the applause of some 50 or more YMCA members on Wednesday. "So we are really working hard and making sure we can have all those touch points."
The fate of the facility attached to Brayton School has been in limbo since the closure of the pool last year because of structural issues and the departure of the Berkshire Family YMCA in March.
The mayor said the city will run some programming over the summer until an operator can be found to take over the facility. It will also need a new name. 
"The YMCA, as you know, has departed from our facilities and will not return to our facility in the form that we had," she said to the crowd in Council Chambers. "And that's been mostly a decision on their part. The city of North Adams wanted to really keep our relationship with the Y, certainly, but they wanted to be a Y without borders, and we're going a different direction."
The pool was closed in March 2023 after the roof failed a structural inspection. Kyle Lamb, owner of Geary Builders, the contractor on the roof project, said the condition of the laminated beams was far worse than expected. 
"When we first went into the Y to do an inspection, we certainly found a lot more than we anticipated. The beams were actually rotted themselves on the bottom where they have to sit on the walls structurally," he said. "The beams actually, from the weight of snow and other things, actually crushed themselves eight to 11 inches. They were actually falling apart. ...
"One good snowstorm, one good storm and bad things definitely could've happened."
The entire roof system had to be jacked up, the beams repaired and restructured on steel brackets on both sides of the building and the roof restored. The ductwork was also in poor shape and new materials are expected to arrive shortly for installation. The contractor estimated about three weeks to complete the project. 
The mayor said a deep cleaning and a building needs assessment will follow. The pool and the humidity issues in the pool room are being assessed by Commissioner of Public Works Timothy Lescarbeau, though the pool itself appears to be in good shape, she said. 
"We understand that the humidity and the dampness eats away at the beams," said Macksey. "We really want to focus on preserving what we've done."
At least one locker room will have to be rebuilt, some accessibility changes made and other repairs made within the building. 
"We had a tenant in there that we thought was doing more than what they really were and once they pulled out and we were able to look around to see what was done or what wasn't," the mayor said. "We're quite frankly a little bit shocked. ...
"The hope — I spent a lot of time in that building — is that we're going to be able to get it sanitary and then we'll be able to provide access to the pool."
The key will be getting the project completed, the pool cleaned and hiring lifeguards. The city has reached out to the Boys and Girls Club in Pittsfield for some training. 
The YMCA was built on Brayton hill after its downtown building fell victim to urban renewal; it was attached to the new Brayton School in the early 1990s when the city took over the building. The Northern Berkshire Y and its successor, Berkshire Family YMCA, had been leasing the structure.  
Macksey said the pool is the heart of the facility but there will be spin off programs like aerobics or pickleball. She anticipates it being open five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday. Was that enough, she asked the members? 
"It's five days more than I'm swimming now," said one woman to applause. 
A number of attendees offered advice or information on hours of operation, fund raising needs and what the Y had offered, and asked about what they could expect and when. Others queried the mayor about fees but she said that will depend on programming. 
The goal is to have the pool open in another month or so (this will depend on hiring staff) and some fitness equipment installed in the front room where the daycare had been. Long-term goals are to open the downstairs and resume daycare operations. 
Attendees were asked to fill out a survey on what activities they want, what they liked and disliked about the Y and what hours it should be open. 
"We'll gather all the information and we'll start putting numbers to programs," the mayor said after the meeting. "But we're prepared to start this up for the first three months and hopefully turn it over to what I call an operator or a tenant or something, but the city is very committed to making this work."
Seed money will come from the city's American Rescue Plan Act funds, grant funding and fund raising. Some existing staff will begin the cleaning but a professional outfit may need to be called in, the mayor said. 
"The pool itself is in good shape. But the building itself needs some TLC," she said.
In speaking to the former Y members, the mayor asked for ideas and volunteers.  
"You are the people who are going to make this work," Macksey said. "We're not going to be able to satisfy everyone but we'll try really really hard."
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