There will be a hot time at the old courthouse come September when the Ridgewood YMCA unveils a massive renovation of its building, but in the meantime, workers continue to hammer away inside the structure’s gutted interior.
The facility got a visit from a major benefactor Monday when U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) provided $237,000 in funding as part of the $6 million project.
“Our hope is that if we provide to young people resources that keep them from congregating on the corner ... we’ll keep them out of the courthouse,” Weiner said, riffing on the building’s past life.
The building was erected in 1931 as a courthouse and became a YMCA in 1973. Its crumbling interior and rising maintenance costs nearly shuttered the Ridgewood Y for good in 2002, but residents fought for an upgrade of the building and elected officials raised money to keep the site open. In addition to Weiner’s contribution, the group received $1.5 million from Borough President Helen Marshall and the City Council, $62,500 from state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood) and $100,000 from the state Senate.
The work will enclose a former courtyard on the side of the building, adding close to 10,000 square feet of usable space to the 23,000-square-foot property. It will have facilities and programs to serve 5,000 people, staff said.
“Pretty much this a place for everyone,” Ridgewood Director Greg Maziarz said, noting the facility serves Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and Rego Park. The YMCA’s programs were temporarily farmed out to other community facilities in various neighborhoods after the building was shuttered in October 2007.
Since then, the organization has run into complications and delays that boosted the price tag for renovations by $1 million.
“As they say, when you get behind the walls, you find things,” said Greater YMCA of New York President Jack Lund.
Still, architects worked to preserve some of the building’s distinctive details, like massive arched windows.
“They were very structurally sound in that era,” Weiner said of 20th-century architecture. “The downside is you’ve got years and years of patches.”
The YMCA hopes to have the building finished by Sept. 8, the start of the new school year. “As you can see, we have a lot to do, but we’re optimistic,” Lund said.
Lund also said the organization is planning to construct a new YMCA in the Rockaways as part of the Arverne residential development.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2009 Community News Group
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