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Berkshire Family YMCA celebrates multi-million dollar renovations with ribbon cutting

June 24, 2023 : WAMC Northeast Public Radio, Josh Landes

This week, the Berkshire Family YMCA of Pittsfield, Massachusetts celebrated a multi-million-dollar renovation with a ribbon cutting.

With YMCA staffers, politicians, community members, and the press assembled on the North Street facility’s new basketball court, board member Matthew Scarafoni offered a bird’s eye view of the 14-month renovation journey.

“This project is $12.3 million," he said. "It completely restores a 1903 building, and it fixes up one that was built in 1987. We have made this into something that is a little bit of a palace, and it is for everybody. The $12.3 million, we went to MassDevelopment, who was unbelievable. And they said you can afford to carry, with your business model, you can afford to carry $6.5 million of debt. Well, at 5%, that's $325,000 of carry for anybody that's wondering. That's a big deal for this community. So instead of doing that, we used MassDev as a springboard and we set out to raise all $12.3 million. So not to keep anybody in suspense here, we are at over $11 million raised and we're going to raise the last million too.”

Scarafoni said the impact of the renovations on the facility since it reopened in January was immediate.

“Our childcare is up about 40%," he said. "Most all of our programs are up, if not doubled. The building has exploded with activity. We have everybody wanting to do something in this building, and it's exactly what we hope for.”

Federal legislators were on hand for the celebration.

“Today we celebrate the next chapter in the Berkshire YMCA story. Thanks in part to the $1 million in federal funding that [Congressman] Richie Neal and I and Senator [Elizabeth] Warren were able to insert into the 2023 Federal spending package, the Berkshire YMCA will be able to meet the needs of today's Berkshire County families," said Democratic Senator Ed Markey. “Those dollars will make a difference by greening the Y, and addressing the structural and façade improvements by replacing falling mortar joints and swapping out windows with energy efficient glass, as well as installing LED lighting and an energy efficient heating and cooling system, expanding safe, affordable, and stimulating childcare for dozens of kids and creating new construction jobs for 136 workers as well as 10 new full-time employees.”

Democratic State Representative Tricia Farley Bouvier spoke on behalf of Berkshire County’s state legislators.

“There's $2.3 million in state funding that are part of this project, between tax credits, between earmarks, between ARPA funds, because we believed in this project, and I'm going to be really out front on this- You had got me when you talked about early ed and the transformation that you were going to make in early education," she said. "Not in changing how it was going to be delivered, but expanding how it was going to be delivered.”

The city of Pittsfield also contributed to the renovations, including a quarter million-dollar slice of the over $40 million it received in American Rescue Plan Act COVID-19 relief funding.

“In addition to the ARPA funds, my administration also contributed $165,000 from Community Preservation funds dedicated to the brick façade and the replacement of these windows. $30,000 from Community Development Block Grant funding was also provided to create better accessibility. The completion of this project brings the addition of 25 more high quality childcare slots for our children, and seven new staff members- Four in childcare and three in human services," said Mayor Linda Tyer. “The facility is now a place for everyone a place for people of all ages and all abilities, whether you're an infant in the daycare program, or someone who is in their fitness routine, or somebody in their 80s who needs a place to walk in the winter now on this beautiful indoor track. This place is a place for everyone, and it is right here in the heart of our downtown. I can't say enough about the spectacular views that we can see out of these beautiful brand-new windows- You can see Bousquet in the distance, you have a view of our downtown, and the beautiful natural light that's brought into this facility is truly remarkable.”

Berkshire Family YMCA CEO and Executive Director Jessica Rumlow received a standing ovation before closing out the ceremony.

“Since opening in January, we've had over 30 morning basketball players coming into the Y," she said. "It's such an amazing thing to see because we have 20-year-olds to 70-year-olds coming together to enjoy a sport they love. Every time I see them playing, I'm reminded that the Y is a convener for people of all ages, race and gender to come together in a shared space.”