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CANCELLED: YMCA Adelaide Avenue

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Donations help making new Y a reality

The project has attracted two $1-million awards.

BY KAREN A. DAVIS Journal Staff Writer | January 14, 2005

PROVIDENCE -- The plan to build a new YMCA on the South Side is moving closer to fruition, nearly four years after officials conceived it.

The proposal recently received a boost in the form of two $1-million donations from philanthropist Richard L. Bready and the Champlin Foundation.

YMCA president and CEO Susan Rittscher said the donations were the largest received in the 151-year history of the YMCA of Greater Providence.

With the two donations, the campaign to raise $10 million for construction has now reached $4.75 million, according to Mary Kay Talbot, a spokeswoman for the YMCA.

YMCA officials expect to be able to break ground as early as June and will open in the fall of 2006.

The building will be on 17 acres formerly occupied by the Gorham Manufacturing complex, off Adelaide Avenue. The park-like parcel is adjacent to Mashapaug Pond. It includes a city land valued at $3.5 million.

Rittscher noted that it is unusual for human service agencies to receive gifts of the "size and stature" of those given for the YMCA project.

"Their money, and the gifts that follow, will be used for a very worthy project -- one that is designed and will be constructed with input from hundreds of people from the neighborhood that will be served," Rittscher said.

Bready, co-chairman of the steering committe that is running the campaign, called the project "one of the most important socio-economic initiatives in recent years.

"I've been drawn to this project because it will bring families together from diverse backgrounds to learn to work and play together, providing a tremendous resource for our capital city," said Bready, chief executive of Nortek Inc., the Providence building products manufacturer and distributor.

Keith Lang, executive director of The Champlin Foundations, praised the project for the positive effect it will have on children and families.

"We believe the YMCA of Greater Providence will be an additional resource that will further strengthen the south, West End and Elmwood neighborhoods," Lang said. The foundations award grants to nonprofit organizations, usually for their buildings.

The site is located where the West End, Reservoir and Elmwood neighborhoods adjoin, YMCA officials noted.

The first two phases of construction will include a childcare and youth area, a computer center, education rooms, a family area, fitness and aerobics rooms, a gym, family lockers, multipurpose space, a cafe and sports field, according to Mickey Riendeau, spokeswoman for the YMCA.

Plans also call for a pool, additional locker space and an expanded childcare center.

Also, after neighborhood surveys found that many residents want more academic help for youngsters and job readiness training for teens and adults, the Y will offer after-school classes in English, reading and math, English as a Second Language, GED programs and technology training.

Last year, Travelers Aid Rhode Island bought the YMCA building on Broad Street, renovating it into its new headquarters with a new name: Crossroads Rhode Island. For the last two years, the Intown YMCA has leased part of that building for recreation, aerobics, and family and youth programs.

From The Providence Journal

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The article said the city broke ground, but site remediation means actual construction won't start until later this summer. Ground breaking means in progress to me though, so I've changed the thread title. :)

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Before you get too excited about this project, and by this I mean plan to keep it in the "in progress" category, I should share some important info. A 'covenant not to sue' between Textron and RIDEM (from back in the late eighties) states that no future title holder can remediate this parcel of land to a usage beyond the zoning of industrial commercial. What this means is that (excluding crazy legal finagling and an egregious disregard of the toxic waste dump that is this property) the YMCA probably won't ever get built. The reason for this legal agreement is that the site is too polluted to ever be cleaned up to the level required for a YMCA, school, or any other residential application without spending what even Textron found to be prohibitively expensive.

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Before you get too excited about this project, and by this I mean plan to keep it in the "in progress" category, I should share some important info. A 'covenant not to sue' between Textron and RIDEM (from back in the late eighties) states that no future title holder can remediate this parcel of land to a usage beyond the zoning of industrial commercial. What this means is that (excluding crazy legal finagling and an egregious disregard of the toxic waste dump that is this property)  the YMCA probably won't ever get built.  The reason for this legal agreement is that the site is too polluted to ever be cleaned up to the level required for a YMCA, school, or any other residential application without spending what even Textron found to be prohibitively expensive.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Speak english! And do you plan to file suit to stop construction like they tried and failed to stop the building of the new Springfield school for the same reasons? How do you know this and noboby else does?

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No, I have no plans to stop the contsruction of the YMCA & I have no stake in the situation what so ever. I would like to point out, however, that building a YMCA on a toxic waste dump (as this site was for over 100 years) is a bad idea if you don't take the neccessary steps to properly clean it up. Listen, I'm all for development, and especially for things like community centers, schools and the like, but knowingly putting people in harms way is in my opinion criminal. I have a number of sources for this information and almost all of it is public record- also a big thanks should be given to the elderly librarian at Textron who volunteered most of the info. For reasons unknown to me the ProJo has chosen to not share this info so far but as time goes on I'm sure more will come out.

With regards to the clarity of my last post, here is some info that may help you in understanding the greater picture:

The reason Textron is in the picture is because they used to own this parcel of land. Leagally, all title holders (past and present) are responsible for the clean up of a toxic waste site. While most of the waste on this site came from a company bought out by Textron (Gorham manufacturing... or something like that)

it is Textron's and now the YMCA's responsibility to clean it up. Where this gets tricky is the 'covenant not to sue' I mentioned between RIDEM and Textron. This was done in large part to cover Textron's ass as well as RIDEM's in hopes of avoiding the current situation. Basically had the YMCA exercised due dillegence (had their $hit together, Frankie) they would never have taken ownership of this property. They (the YMCA) knew some clean up was needed, they did not know to what extent this was needed nor did they know about the agreement between RIDEM and Textron. Simply put, they didn't do their homework and now they're paying the price.

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Easy boy! I'm just playing the devil's advocate! Looking to see if you've got the goods on Textron/Gorman Manufacturing which later moved to Lincoln, RI and then later out of business. Yes, if memory serves me right there may have been a reported problem with the site years ago.

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What is most compelling about what got reported on the toxicity of this site is that noone really knows all the pollutants that exist there. The reason for this is that when Gorman was in business much of their manufacturing techniques were proprietary which means we may never know all of the substances they dumped onto that site. It would be simple if we knew it was just the biproducts from silver or gold work but Gorman did lots of different things producing toxic waste that we now don't even know to test for.

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This site was a Superfund site. See the EPA superfund website. It was de-listed when the RIDEM took jurisdiction of it... It hasnt been properly remediated. The YMCA's plan is to put 24" of clean fill with a plastic liner over the soil. That's no deeper than you plant a daffodil...

Nobody in this development-mad city wants to acknowledge the problem, but it's not going away. The DEM has already taken the City of Providence to court to stop building of a school on the adjacent parcel, and the Y's parcel is even more polluted...

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Welcome stranger!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Howdy! I'm a neighbor of the new YMCA, so a friend pointed this forum out to me. I'm certainly in favor of the Y, I think it would be great, but if it goes up with the remediation plan they currently have, I sure as HELL won't be swimming in their pool...

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YMCA gets go-ahead for construction. Because of numerous delays, the cost of construction of the new facility has increased by an estimated $500,000 to $1 million. [ProJo.com]

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from the Journal today:

i don't know how they can raise 10 million dollars for a new building that could serve everyone, and just decide to spend the money on one program instead. On top of that, closing services on Broad Street? What is going on here? I feel like we're going backwards where the east side gets services and upgrades and the rest of the city gets specialised programing that doesn't appeal to everyone... I'm sure this new mission is an important one, but i was really looking forward to this new Y facility at adelaide ave.

http://www.projo.com/ri/providence/content...15.359d6e6.html

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I'm totally with you, Jen. I was really looking forward to somewhere where I could swim and take excercise classes AND my husband could play basketball. It's such a disservice to this side of the city that there is no such place here. As it stands, we drive all the way to the JCC. Which we like, but I want to be able to do this stuff in my own neighborhood! And people here NEED opportunities for excercise!

I'm so dissapointed. This seems like a huge step back for the needier parts of the city.

The article says that they have ended adult services because participation was declining. Of course participation declined- there were fewer and fewer servioces available!

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I would like to know how the Y is explaining this to its donors. 10 mil is not chump change, and if it was raised specifically for this new location, i'm not sure how they can turn around and say "oh, yeah, we changed our minds." Non profit foundations don't work that way. If i raised $ to plant trees in Providence and decided to use the money to build bike paths in Cranston...I"d have a lot to answer to...

i wonder if the Y got any CDBG money for this...

also, i know its not the YMCA's mission to keep the middle class in the city, but this sure isn't going to help.

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You could see this coming for a ong time. The fitness center was contantly ramping back its hours until it became somewhat of a joke. Unfortunate they will be closing this.

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