Expansion track

(First published in the June 13, 2019 issue of City Pages)

The YMCA’s first two phases are slated to wrap up by fall. A lot of members are still steamed about the elimination of separate whirlpools


Ghidorzi rendering of the YMCA’s expansion.

The framework for the first part of what will ultimately be a $20 million expansion of the Woodson YMCA and an on-site Aspirus Clinic is now complete, developers say.

Work is still underway on putting in the window frames and glass surrounding the track meant to afford users an open view of northern downtown, according to developer Ghidorzi Companies.

The project is slated to wrap up in the fall, when the public will see the new strength and cardio wellness center, the new senior activity center called The Landing, an updated entrance and the new Aspirus Fieldhouse. Also included is a new childcare center.

Originally the childcare center and cardio center were going to be done in two separate phases but were combined to keep the project on track, says YMCA CEO Bryan Bailey.  The project initially had been delayed two months while the YMCA’s block was rezoned.

Future phases will include items such as a new gymnastics center, a youth activity center and a senior wellness center. Those phases will be completed between September 2019 and May 2020, Bailey says.

Not everyone was happy with some of the changes at the YMCA. A contingent of senior men are upset that the separated whirlpools were removed from the men’s and women’s locker rooms, replaced with a shared one in the pool area, similar to the Weston YMCA’s setup. A sarcastic sign posted on the hot tub at the end of March said, “thank them for closing this extremely dangerous facility. Remember, you might have been the next drowning victim!” YMCA member Jerry Buerer told City Pages nearly 150 members signed a petition asking the Y to keep the hot tubs.

Bailey says YMCA Board of Directors voted to close the men’s and women’s locker room whirlpools because of safety and liability. The YMCA’s national organization and its insurance company recommend that as well, because of the lack of lifeguards who would be present in a pool setting.