The YMCA of Sequim gained so many new members in its first months that officials are now considering an expansion.
“We’re not actively planning to expand, but we’re thinking about what that would look like,” Len Borchers, CEO of Olympic Peninsula YMCA told the Clallam County Board of Commissioners during a work session Monday, Aug. 28. “We’re maybe looking at (expansion) in the near future.”
The YMCA of Sequim has not been open long. Its doors opened in October, a year after the Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center (SARC), which was in the same building at 610 N. Fifth Ave., closed.
In October when the YMCA opened, it had nearly 2,000 members. That number ballooned in just a few months up to 5,562 by Monday, exceeding the 5,000 officials had hoped to have by 2018.
“That has just blown us away,” said Kurt Turner, Sequim branch manager, in an interview Monday. “We didn’t expect to have it happen so quickly.”
Planning for the expansion is in its earliest stages and officials are just beginning to think about what can be expanded and where it could expand to, he said.
There’s nothing specific yet, but membership is continuing to grow.
“We just know it’s something we need to start sooner rather than later,” Turner said.
He said there could be opportunities to expand the pool, the weight room and add other rooms to expand the Y’s programs.
When the planning begins, he said they will be looking at the most cost-effective ways to benefit the most people.
“The pool is a big draw for us and it gets crowded,” Turner said. “Do we look at adding lanes?”
On average 600 members scan in every day, he said. That number doesn’t include people paying for day use or using showers.
He said he doesn’t have numbers for membership and use rates at SARC, but said anecdotally it seems more people are using the facility than they were before.
High membership isn’t the only achievement the Y has made in Sequim. The Sequim Y has nearly paid off about $100,000 in prepaid memberships that it absorbed from SARC.
The goal was to pay off the debt by the end of 2017, but as of this month, only about $1,000 was left to pay off.
The YMCA offered people who had prepaid memberships at SARC membership credit at the Y or to refund their money.
“We’ve been open a few months and almost everybody is paid back with either a check or with credit,” Turner said.
The YMCA’s programs are seeing more success than he anticipated. The swim program averages about 120 children per month, he said.
Turner was expecting closer to 70 or 80 kids each month, Turner said.
A judo program, previously held at the Port Angeles YMCA, sees about 10-15 students each month, he said.
The AARP and United Health Care “At Your Best” program, sees about 400 members, he said. Its counterpart in Port Angeles has about 100 members, he said.
“Here in Sequim we’ve quadrupled that,” Turner said.
Turner attributes the YMCA’s success to the community partnerships. He said it wouldn’t have been possible without help from Clallam County, the City of Sequim, the Boys &Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, Olympic Medical Center and “all the organizations that came together to make it possible.”
He said the community response has been overwhelming.
Turner said he also is thankful for the YMCA staff.
“The staff I have is awesome,” he said. “We’ve hired a lot of good people up here who have contributed to the success.”
Jesse Major is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum, serves on the Olympic Peninsula YMCA board of directors.