In the News

Saucon-area YMCA takes step closer to reality with township approval, could cost $12 to $15 million

May 14, 2021 at 3:03 AM



By MICHELLE MERLIN
THE MORNING CALL |
MAY 14, 2021 AT 3:03 PM
 
 
A group that for years has been pushing for a YMCA in the southern part of the Lehigh Valley took a major step forward this week when Upper Saucon officials approved a lease agreement for a new facility.
 
Supervisors on Monday unanimously approved a lease with the Greater Valley YMCA for about 10 acres at 3200 Preston Lane to accommodate the construction of a new YMCA branch, to be called Saucon Creek YMCA. The facility, which could take a few years to open, would include an indoor pool, child care programs, programming for senior citizens and teens, and other amenities.
 
 
 
It will be located adjacent to the township’s community park and the Southern Lehigh Library, just down the road from DeSales University.
 
“We’re so excited to have the YMCA in Upper Saucon Township‚” said Brian Farrell, the supervisors chairman. “I think there’s a big need for that for not only the facilities they provide, but the center-of-town feel I think that building will bring to us.”
 
 
The site for the community center is an unused bus depot.
 
Under the agreement approved Monday, the township would lease the land to the YMCA for $1 annually.
 
 
Years in the making
The creation of a YMCA serving the southern portion of the Lehigh Valley has been about seven years in the making, said David Fagerstrom, the president/CEO of the Greater Valley YMCA.
 
Upper Saucon resident Jennifer Johnson started pushing for the facility early on. Her sons were involved in competitive swimming, but there were no local indoor pools. Area swimmers have to practice at Emmaus or Muhlenberg College.
 
Her sons have since moved on to college, but Johnson’s idea to bring an indoor pool to the area has grown into a broader push for a community center that can be enjoyed by everyone, from children to senior citizens. Now, she’s the head volunteer of the Saucon Creek YMCA Committee.
 
“It just became a way to get our community to have a place to go to stay healthy and to stay connected,” she said.
 
The Greater Valley YMCA endorsed the idea years ago, prompting an official assessment survey that involved interviewing 40 community leaders, including elected and school officials, The Morning Call reported in 2016. The group found there was a need for a YMCA in the southern region, and that people wanted a pool, child care and fitness amenities.
 
For the last five years, volunteers have been vetting potential properties in the area. The Preston Lane property is the 19th they considered, Fagerstrom said.
 
More to go
Even with township approval, the project is still a few years from completion. Fagerstrom said the project is likely to cost between $12 and $15 million.
 
The YMCA is in the beginning stages of a feasibility study and is seeking Saucon-area community leaders to speak to about the project to make sure it suits the area’s needs, and to determine there’s enough financial support to raise the needed capital.
 
From there, they’d move into a fundraising process, then the 13 to 14-month construction process. The facility could probably open in three to five years.
 
Fagerstrom encouraged community leaders interested in making the project a reality to reach out to him at davidfagerstrom@gv-ymca.org.
 
“We’re listening to key leaders of the community so we don’t miss the mark on anything were planning for this Y,” he said.

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