Norwalk Mayor Harry W. Rilling formally announced a proposal of a new state-of-the-art community center which will be a product of a partnership between the City of Norwalk and the Riverbrook Regional YMCA at a special press conference earlier this afternoon. Mayor Rilling was joined by members of the Norwalk Common Council, the YMCA, and community partners for the announcement.
“Our community took a huge loss when the Norwalk YMCA closed its doors. We have lacked a true place where residents could meet, receive programming, and participate in recreation. I have been determined to see that changed and am honored to make this announcement today,” said Mayor Rilling. “I am thrilled about the possibility of Norwalk having a bonafide community center once again. I know the addition of the YMCA would help create a lasting impact on the lives of countless people in our city.”
The City of Norwalk is the sole owner of the building at 98 South Main Street after acquiring the property following the closure of Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) and the reorganization of the South Norwalk Community Center. The city issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in October 2018 in search of a partner to bring a community center back to South Norwalk. The Riverbrook Regional YMCA responded to the RFP and has spent more than a year researching the needs and desires of the community.
“We are truly excited about this proposal. The Y has a long-standing track record and on-the-ground presence necessary to address the nation’s most pressing social issues related to youth, health, and community life,” said Robert McDowell, Chief Executive Officer with the Riverbrook Regional YMCA. “We believe our experience, together with our mission and purpose, uniquely positions us to serve the City of Norwalk, its residents, and specifically, the South Norwalk community.”
An ad-hoc committee of the Common Council reviewed the RFP and has been working with the YMCA and other community leaders on this proposal. The committee included Council President and Land Use and Building Management Committee Chair Tom Livingston, fellow committee members Greg Burnett and Barbara Smyth, and District B Council members Ernie Dumas and Darlene Young.
The YMCA has proposed entering into a long-term lease of the building and performing a significant renovation to the space. As part of the proposal, the YMCA is initially providing $1.2 million toward the renovation, with the City of Norwalk matching that initial commitment dollar for dollar. The city funds would come from the $3.5 million the developers of the SoNo Collection provided the City of Norwalk to use specifically for the benefit of South Norwalk.
The YMCA has stated that it can begin providing programs right away while renovations can occur concurrently. It is anticipated the cost of fully renovating the building is $4 to $5 million. The YMCA has committed to raising the remaining funds necessary to complete the proposed renovations. City and local leaders are also working with the state to secure additional resources. This proposal is still subject to authorization from the Board of Estimate and Taxation and approval by the Common Council. Both votes are scheduled to take place in the coming months.