Wednesday, September 24, 2014
By James Lomuscio
After more than a decade of planning, fundraising, approvals, court cases and construction, the Westport Weston Family Y today received final approval of its new headquarters on Allen Raymond Lane from the Board of Selectmen acting as the town’s Water Pollution Control Authority.
The unanimous vote approving the 54,000-square-foot Y’s private, onsite, wastewater disposal system (POWDS) at its Mahackeno campus means that the new Y now has a certificate of occupancy—and will be open for business Monday, Oct. 6, at 5:30 a.m., said Rob Reeves, Y CEO.
“It was an exciting day after many years to be at this point,” said Reeves. “It’s really a dream come true.”
There was applause and smiles all around in the Town Hall meeting room following two unanimous votes on the matter. The Y held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 28 at the new facility but could not open pending today’s approvals.
The selectmen also unanimously approved financial agreements providing that the Y deposit at Fairfield County Bank $297,500 for operational, maintenance and replacement reserves and $281,150 for emergency reserves, such as repairs and parts, to be reviewed annually.
Reeves said the requirement of bonds for operational and mechanical matters was standard procedure. Fairfield County Bank confirmed the funds were available.
The Y had sought but failed in its efforts to hook up to the town’s sewer line. It contended that not only would that be less costly but also more environmentally friendly and eliminate destruction of several acres of trees.
But opponents prevailed, citing the possibility that the Family Y on a sewer line would open up the area to more development.
“The Y is cleared to open its doors for business,” said First Selectman Jim Marpe, who before his election last November served for a time as chair of the Family Y’s board of trustees.
“One the things we talked about today was the collaboration of various town departments,” he said.
“I was very pleased with how the town departments who oversee the POWDS worked to see how the ordinances were being followed and that all the i’s were dotted and all the t’s where crossed to make sure the system will perform as desired.
“I believe the Y will quickly become another crown jewel for Westport and a facility that we will all be proud of,” Marpe added. “It really represents a community effort to accomplish an important goal, trying to work as a community to satisfy both concerns and desires and strike an appropriate balance.”
Second Selectman Avi Kaner reiterated Marpe’s comment, saying that “now is the time to come together to celebrate this new town jewel that will be viewed as a town jewel in years ahead.”
Even Selectwoman Helen Garten, who lives on River Lane near the new Y where many neighbors opposed the project, showed her support, authoring the POWDS approval needed for more than 5,000-gallon septic facilities.
“I am delighted to see it in operation,” she said. “Essentially we have been able to put in place some provisions that I think should make the town very satisfied that the town is protected in the event of any problem coming up with this system.
“I am very, very pleased with how this came out,” Garten added. “I think it is an exciting time, and I wish the Y the very best of success in the future.”
Meanwhile, the Y said as classes, activities and programs continue at the Y’s current facility over the next 10 days, Y staff will complete the transition from the Y’s downtown home for the past 91 years to the Bedford Family Center, as the new $38.5 million facility is known.
“In addition to switching over our phone system and other last-minute logistics, we’ll be conducting a series of safety and security drills,” Reeves said. “We are delighted to have hundreds of new Y members ready to join us at our new Y and want to be as fully prepared as possible for what will surely be a very big day on Monday, Oct. 6.”
The Y said it will continue its series of open house preview tours of its new facility.
The scheduled times are 12-2 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m.-noon on Saturdays. No reservations are needed.
Detailed directions to the new Y, as well as the online calendar of scheduled open house tours, may be found at www.westporty.org.
Posted 09/24/14 at 01:25 PM Permalink