YMCA getting rid of uninvited guests

Published 5:17 pm Monday, November 7, 2005

By By Matthew Nascone
Not having a gymnasium for three months can cause some problems. Tammy Graham, the Atmore YMCA branch director, can attest to that fact.
"On a scale of one to 10, I would call the inconvenience of not having the gym a 15," Graham said. "It has been terrible because it is one of the biggest things we offer and it has been awful since it has been down."
The YMCA gym floor is full of cracks and holes where the termites have decided to dine on the 79-year-old wood. Graham said the termites ate the underground supports, making it unsafe to do any kind of athletic activity on the floor.
"There is no support left under the floor and you are liable to jump right through it," Graham said.
She said this setback has caused a loss of membership during the three-month span.
"People would come in and shoot baskets, but they couldn't do that with the gym being closed," Graham said. "I know for a fact we lost five youth memberships because they couldn't shoot baskets anymore."
Looking ahead
Graham said the lost memberships have hurt the revenue of the program, but she is positive the new floor and updated gym will bring new members to the YMCA.
"I think it will bring new members because a lot of people have come in asking about the new gym and said they would join the Y if they could shoot hoops," she said. "Especially with winter coming, it is a place for people to come when it is cold out."
The new floor will primarily impact the younger members of the Y. Graham said the parents of the pre-teen children and teenagers will have a place to drop their kids and not worry about them.
"The parents can feel that their kids are in a safe environment because we always have attendants roaming the building," she said.
Graham said the older members of the community are waiting patiently for the gym to be opened again in January.
"There were always five to 10 guys playing basketball," Graham said.
Getting the gym open again is Graham's top priority.
"I am so excited," she said. "It's been a long time coming, we have needed that new floor since August and we are just getting started on it this week. It has been down a long time and it has been a problem and we are glad to get our basketball and volleyball up and running."
Remodeling the gym
Graham said the entire gym is getting a facelift while the floor is being updated. The pecan flooring with the holes in it is going to be ripped up and replaced with an Olympic-style floor.
Ross Terry, the facilities director and sports programs director, said many 12-by-12 plastic tiles snap together to form the Olympic floor.
The reasons for not replacing the floor with another wood floor were simple, according to Graham. The cost would be a lot greater and the maintenance would be a lot more intensive. She said a wood floor requires refurnishing, sanding and repainting every two years.
"We decided the Olympic floor would be sturdier and easier to repair," Graham said. "If we have problems with it, we can pop the tiles and fix anything underneath it."
Other enhancements to the gym will include a fresh coat of paint on the walls, placing safety mats under the basketball nets and installing a permanent volleyball system in the floor.
The basketball goals will also receive an update.
"We are sprucing up the basketball goals by painting them and putting up new rims and nets," Graham said.
The floor itself will cost $52,000. The entire project with the floor plus the matting, painting and volleyball system will cost $65,000.
"This will bring the gym up to where we want it and that is no secret," Graham said. "We are looking for donations to cover the cost."
Upcoming projects
Graham said the Y has plans for various improvements during the next five years. One of the more recent improvements planned is an expansion of the fitness center. Graham said the plan is to knock out the wall between the cardio room and the storage room to make it a large weight room.
Renovations are also planned for the bathrooms. Graham said they want to add showers, but only if there is money to do so.

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