This May, 97 years of passion, innovation and community service will all come together as the Meadowlands YMCA unveils its new 83,000 square-foot facility. The fully-appointed Y is located in the former team headquarters and practice facility of the Brooklyn Nets, finally providing the region with a world-class child development, health, fitness, aquatics and community asset.
For nearly a century, the Meadowlands Area YMCA has been sewn into the fabric of our community, enriching the region with its health, fitness, wellness and social programs. This local branch of the international nonprofit provides services, hosts events and organizes community activities from over 50 locations across the region. These locations, including schools, chu rches, sports centers and senior centers that have enabled the Y to thrive and engage, will continue to operate after the full-facility opens.
And just as the Y has been welcomed into the Meadowlands’ schools and community centers for so many decades, it will now welcome community members into its newfound central location with a vastly expanded set of programs under the theme of “For a Better Us.”
“This community has never experienced what a real Y can be,” says Jane Egan, President and CEO of the Meadowlands Area YMCA since 1980. “And not only are we going to be a full-service facility but we’r e going to provide the types of contemporary community programs that extend far beyond the traditional offerings of a YMCA. It’s much more than ‘swim and gym.’”
The aspiration for a home base for the Meadowlands Y goes back generations, Egan says, but the dream of a centralized community hub finally began to materialize with the purchase of a building on Murray Hill Parkway in East Rutherford, in 2013. The building was to be developed into a YMCA and even held a ceremonial announcement that the Mara Center for Early Childhood Learning, funded by the family that owns the New York Giants, would operate as the Y’s first program. However, when the more suitable Nets facility, just down the street, became available in 2015, the Y sold the first building.
With the help of Bergen Engineering Corporation and DMR Architects, the Y developed a plan for what will be New Jersey’s leading YMCA facility, revamping the entire facility, adding 7,000 square-feet in mezzanine space and another 10,000 square-feet to install a competition size pool. The building’s gymnasium— double-sized NBA-quality basketball court—was the one element of the building that is perfect as it is.
“The Meadowlands Y blends the ideal programming mix with best operating practices and state of the art equipment in one facility,” says Joe Min, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Meadowlands Area YMCA. “Every second of every day, every member of the community will have an opportunity to participate in activities that are consistent with our mission of strengthening community through youth development healthy living and social responsibility.”
The new Y facility, which will create 150-200 new jobs, will feature the Mara Center for Early Childhood Learning with a capacity of 124 kids from infant to 5 years old. Other programs include job training, activities for individuals with special needs, health and wellness learning, academic enrichment for all school ages, cultural art classes, healthy cooking lessons, leadership development, social meetings personal training and much more.
Many of the classes in the new YMCA’s wellness program will be offered free of any additional charge for YMCA members. The center will also offer free child watch for children who need somewhere to stay while their parents are at the gym or attending YMCA classes. And, of course, the new Y will offer the same events and programs it has been enriching the community with for dozens of years, including camp programs and opportunities for members of all ages to participate in sports such as soccer, volleyball, basketball and gymnastics.
“A number of collaborators providing special programming and services, including SportsCare Institute, which will lend its physical therapy services to YMCA members when it opens. “They’re not just a tenant in the building—they’re our preventive care and physical therapy partner,” Egan emphasizes, saying that the Y and SportsCare have a “great, synergistic relationship. Their clients will certainly benefit from our 15,000 square-foot fitness center, and our members will love having a premier physical therapy resource in the building where they train.”
Egan adds that kiosks will be set up in the fitness center, where members can take an “aspiration test” that will determine their strengths, as well as areas in which they can improve. Members will then be given a personalized profile and training plan that will be uploaded to a web portal where they can access it at any time or location from a computer or mobile device.
“They can connect at home and they can see what programs that our trainers prescribed for them,” Egan explains. “We just plug it into th eir webpage portal, and now they’re able to come in and hit the cardio equipment, and they’re able to do their personal training workout right then and there.”
Installing the Technogym equipment was yet another dedicated endeavor taken by YMCA staff to provide the best to its members—and to create a “wow factor” for all new patrons of the soon-to-debut facility, Egan says. She explains that with help from two other YMCAs that have already successfully implemented Technogym technology—the 92nd Street Y and the Central Florida Y—as well as a visit to Technogym’s Florida showrooms led to the incorporation of the luxury electronic equipment into the Meadowlands Area YMCA’s newest gym and fitness center.
Wi-Fi will be available throughout the facility, including the tech lab, where members can take classes in coding and seniors can learn to stay connected through things like email and social media. Wi-fi will also be available in the social areas like the welcome center, which will contain a small retail shop and a café for patrons to purchase sandwiches, salads and healthy snacks.
A region-wide membership development program has included opening a satellite showroom in East Rutherford as well as participating in fairs, exhibiting within local business and other events. Chamber members were invited to join the Y as Founding Members, entitling them to reduce their enrollment fee from $90 to only $1 and receive $250 in program credits and a two-year price freeze on their membership.
In addition to new members, the Meadowlands Area Y is also looking for sponsors to help fund the completion of the new building’s $10 million renovation. The nonprofit has been running a capital campaign with support and cooperation from other groups and businesses in the community, and is looking forward to finding title sponsors for several different parts of the facility, including the aquatic center and the building itself.
Egan acknowledged support from the founders of many Meadowlands Chamber businesses have contributed generously to the Y, including the Mara family, the Sanzari family, the Pezzolla family, the Feury family, the Branca family, the McGowan family, the Gural family and the Cavaluzzi family. Institutions like Boiling Springs Savings Bank, Sussex Bank and PSEG are also supporters.
“A project like this reflects the composition of the whole community,” says Ms. Egan. “To complement our capital campaign, we just commenced our ‘Brick’ campaign, which will allow local businesses and families to support the project and become a part of the building forever.”
For more information, please visit www.meadowlandsymca.org