CLEARFIELD---An official groundbreaking ceremony was held in Cleafield today for their new state-of-the-art YMCA, but some people say the facility will make parking downtown harder than it already is.
The Clearfield YMCA has been around for nearly a century, and with their members till using a pool and gym built in 1921, it was clear that it was time for new facilities.
“It restores part of the downtown that began to look a little worn over time,” said Clearfield Commissioner Joan McMillen,” And as Clearfield enters a new era with Marcellus Shale and new industries coming into Clearfield, it says, ‘Welcome, and we’re ready to reinvent ourselves,’”
The new 35,000 square foot expansion will include a new pool, gym, locker rooms, and meeting rooms, and officials say there will be features for young and old.
“There are very towns that can say they’re putting a five million dollar project into their downtown, so that’s fantastic to start,” said YMCA Campaign Chairperson, Mark Breakey, “The second thing is, the project, being a YMCA, effects all segments of our society.”
The YMCA is expanding into what was a public parking lot, and with scarce parking already being an issue in downtown Clearfield, many residents say this will only make the problem worse.
“The YMCA could have been put at the K-Mart building or up at the swimming pool,” said Clearfield resident Ron Lizzotte, “It should not be built like this downtown. It’s going to hurt, it really is. We’re cramped for space as it is. They could move out to those places and have lots and lots of space to park.”
Colleen Campman works at Jim’s Sports Center, right across the street from the construction of the YMCA, and says they already get complaints from customers about parking in the area.
“It’s definitely been a situation businesswise for us here,” Campman said, “We hear it every day. You can’t beat a dead horse. The problem has been brought up for quite a few years. Unfortunately, everybody just keeps brushing it under the carpet.”
YMCA officials hope residents will bear with them while the parking issues are worked out.
“The nice thing is that I think the community will band together, and they’ll realize where they can and cannot park, and everything will work out,” said YMCA Executive Director, Don Herres, “I think we have a good community in Clearfield, and I know that they’ll be supportive of the project as well as the parking issues that come with it.”
The new YMCA is expected to open in February. There’s no word yet if there is a plan to change the parking structure in downtown Clearfield.