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Pittsfield YMCA's $12.4 million renovation called a 'complete game changer' as memberships and day care enrollments are up

childcare facilities

The most striking improvement to the YMCA in Pittsfield is to the child care facilities. According to Matthew Scarafoni, Chair of the Capitol Campaign, “child care is the engine of this whole project.” 

PITTSFIELD — Pittsfield’s newest downtown renovation project received a rousing and warm welcome Monday at a ceremony that officially signified the completion of the Berkshire Family YMCA’s $12.4 million renovation of its city facility.

Federal, state and local officials gathered on the Pittsfield YMCA’s new 6,500-square-foot basketball court for a symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renovation. Construction began on the project in late October 2021.

Senator Edward Markey takes a selfie

U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey, center, was on hand to help celebrate the ceremonial ribbon cutting of the Pittsfield YMCA. 

The eight speakers, who included U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey and U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, took turns highlighting different aspects of the completely renovated space on downtown North Street, adding that the project’s completion bodes well for the city and the county’s future.

“It’s a complete game changer,” said YMCA board member Matthew Scarafoni before the ceremony. Scarafoni chaired the capital campaign committee that raised the funding for the project.

“It means something not only to the Y, but downtown, it means something to the community, it means something to those in need,” Scarafoni said. “For a $12.4 million investment, we now have a fully comfortable building that expands all of the programs that we serve.

childcare facilities

"Day care is up 40 percent," according to Matthew Scarafoni.

“Day care is up 40 percent,” he said. “All of our programs have grown. Many have doubled.

“What it means is that more people in this community in need will be able to use this as a platform to change the narrative of their life,” he said.

The renovation to the YMCA in Pittsfield includes new fitness facilities

The renovation to the YMCA in Pittsfield includes new fitness facilities. 

Besides the new basketball court, actually a “sportsplex” which can also be used for volleyball and pickleball, and expanded child care facilities, the YMCA has modernized and enlarged its workout/gym space, redone the locker room facilities, improved the welcome center and pool area, and added a walking/running track, which is located above the basketball court.

Membership, which dropped by 50 percent during COVID, is now back to pre-pandemic levels, Scarafoni said. The Y has received some 1,000 new memberships from Pittsfield residents.

Matt Scarafoni

"It's a complete game changer," said YMCA board member Matthew Scarafoni of the $12.4 million renovation. 

The Y’s main building was built in 1903 (an adjacent structure that houses the pool was added in the mid-1980s). The condition of the oldest building made the renovation project essential.

“The weight of the deferred maintenance was going to put us in an untenable spot,” Scarafoni said. “So we either acted or collapsed.”

According to Scarafoni, the capital committee is still $1.2 million short of the project’s final price tag, but he fully expects to reach that number. He said the project was structured in such a way that the YMCA won’t have to carry debt into the future. The project includes both city, state and federal funding that the city of Pittsfield received from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The YMCA received $250,000 of the $8.8 million the city budgeted for nonprofits in the $40.6 million of ARPA funding it received, according to Mayor Linda Tyer. State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, said $2.3 million in state funding was included. All the construction was done by local contractors.

Mayor Linda Tyer

Congressman Richard E. Neal and Mayor Linda Tyer share a moment during the celebration at the YMCA in Pittsfield. 

Neal, who had also attended the groundbreaking ceremony two years ago, said the project also qualified for the federal New Market Tax credit program, which the city had also used to help fund the renovation of the Colonial Theatre in the mid-2000s.

“We have plenty of promising initiatives,” said Neal, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. “This one I knew from the earliest time it was put forward would benefit from new market tax credits and the result is with us today.”

Senator Edward Markey

"The building that we're standing in today is more than brick-and-mortar, plaster and paint," Sen. Edward Markey said. "It's an integral part of Pittsfield's past, present and future."

“The building that we’re standing in today is more than brick-and-mortar, plaster and paint,” Markey said. “It’s an integral part of Pittsfield’s past, present and future.”

“This facility is now a place for everyone, all ages and abilities,” Tyer said, “and it is right here in downtown.”

Farley-Bouvier praised the YMCA’s expanded child care facilities, which allow for the enrollment of 31 additional students and praised the partnerships between local, state and federal officials that allowed the project to proceed.

Jessica Rumlow, CEO/Executive Director of the Berkshire Family YMCA

Jessica Rumlow, CEO/executive director of the Berkshire Family YMCA offered this simple remark: "We did it."

“It was crazy to think that this could be pulled off,” she said. “But it was that doggedness, the strategic thinking, the partnerships that made this happen.”

Pittsfield YMCA CEO/Executive Director Jessica Rumlow was more succinct in her praise.

“We did it,” she said.

Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6224.

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