The Keene, New Hampshire YMCA has been operating for 125 years in this town of 22,563 residents. A few years ago, Jack Duggan of Monadnock Economic Development Corporation mentioned to me that the Y was looking toward its future and a new facility. And so the links in the chain started to build toward bringing a new Y to Keene and surrounding rural communities.
Scott Johnson, our Community Facilities and Business Programs Specialist and I met with key people from the Y, as well as Keene’s Mayor and City Manager. The Y’s board membership is made up of local leaders and business owners including the area’s largest employers. The board launched an awareness campaign, and organized a 45-member volunteer committee that eventually raised the largest not for profit fundraising campaign in the region’s history.
In December, 2009 the Keene family YMCA applied to USDA for a Direct Loan. Our staff did an amazing job of coordinating the application processing and the project players. The effort paid off in generous tax credits from the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, state CDBG funding, creative USDA programs, low interest rates, and competitive construction financing, bringing $9 million to the table. USDA approved $4.5 million in Community Facilities Direct Loan funds and the project was off and running.
The facility is doubling its size to 41,700 square feet with child care, community services, therapy and wellness programs occupying 74% of the building. The balance of the building will be recreational. There are no other facilities in the area that provide affordable before and after school child care programs. Low income residents will be eligible for subsidized memberships. In addition to the construction jobs to build the new center, 31 permanent jobs will be created to run the facility and its programs.
As I looked at the enormous concrete footprint taking shape I thought about all the people of every age who will benefit from this undertaking. I also picture the big team of folks who helped make this dream a reality and look forward to the ribbon cutting.