Special to The Gazette
It has been a long time coming.
The “all new” Tiftarea YMCA formally opened its doors this week to its new “state-of-the-art” facility on Carpenter Road, moving from four reconditioned modular buildings that have served as home for much of the past decade.
“It’s beyond most people’s imagination of what we would have,” says Jimmy R. Moore, chief executive officer of the Tiftarea YMCA.
The facility is the result of a new partnership with Tift Regional Medical Center, which owns the 22,500-square-foot building at 1657 S. Carpenter Road. The Tiftarea YMCA will use the facility to consolidate health, exercise and wellness functions.
Approximately 7,500 square feet of the building will be allocated for TRMC employee wellness activities and hospital community seminars, support groups and screenings.
The YMCA's aquatic pool and ball fields will remain at the Y’s 1823 Westover Road location.
“This venture, which is in alignment with Tift Regional Medical Center’s mission to raise the level of health and wellness in our region, will help strengthen the YMCA and the worthwhile services it provides for our community," said William T. Richardson, TRMC president/CEO.
“We also recognize that having a YMCA is a valuable tool in the recruitment of business, industry and working professionals,” Richardson said.
The new YMCA facility includes:
• The latest models in cardio equipment, circuit training and free weights;
• A 3,000-square-foot aerobics center with dramatic studio lighting effects and sound system;
• A new “Ladies Only” center that enables gender-sensitive instruction;
• A child-watch area where children six and under can play with friends while parents exercise;
• A new youth center to help give young people a safe place to relax and to be around positive role models;
• Convenient on-site locker rooms and showers;
• A new half-mile nature track with a low-impact ropes course for team building.
The facility opened last Thursday for members and formally opened Monday to the public. Although some construction continues at the site, all classes and offices have been moved there. The entrance is temporarily at the rear of the building as work continues on the front.
“Things are going great,” Moore said. “We’re a brand new Y; everything we have is state of the art. Don’t be fooled by the outside of the building.”
Public tours are being offered at the facility from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on week days.
“The exercise equipment is everything anybody could ever want,” Moore said, noting that the equipment is all new, including Arc Trainers used by the National Football League, treadmills with individual TV’s, as well as four 46-inch flat-screen televisions on the walls of the main workout room.
In conjunction with the site’s opening, the YMCA for a limited time is waiving the $50 membership joining fee.
“Our goal at the YMCA is to make a difference in the community,” Moore said. “We are for youth development, for healthy living and for social responsibility.”
Moore noted that many people and local businesses are responsible for getting the Tiftarea YMCA where it is today.
Tifton businessman Lamar Jackson was inspired in 1997 to begin a campaign to fund a YMCA after reading in The Tifton Gazette about a lengthy list of teenagers arrested on a Friday night.
“I thought it was a shame these teenagers didn't have a place to go with Christian morals and values,” said Jackson. “I went to 12 people and they gave me $270,000.”
From there, the Tiftarea Y was chartered as a YMCA in August 1999, and began offering programs in the community, operating from an office in the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce building.
In March 2002, construction began on the sports fields, multi-purpose Airnaseum and the Stafford Aquatic Center on land donated by John Hunt. The Danny and Beverly Sterling family also aided in getting the location ready for offices and exercise classes.
The Tiftarea YMCA formally moved to the Westover Road site on Jan. 1, 2004. The Y’s 18-acre sports center will remain in operation there. Moore said the Airnaseum has been retrofitted for basketball.