As Hamburg continues to grow in the coming years, the only constant in our landscape is change, but hundreds turned out on a beautiful October day for the official unveiling of a landmark in the Hamburg community that will forever touch the lives of our neighborhood.

After years of planning, discussion, and construction, the new YMCA at Hamburg Place opened its doors to rave reviews.

At the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 24, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray called the facility and the dedication behind it “incredibly inspiring” and said it reflects the commitment made by the YMCA of Central Kentucky and the public.

“People are what makes Lexington special —our citizens,” pg-10-hj_november_2016Gray said.

At the ribbon cutting, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, KY-6, called the new building a “milestone” in the growth of the Hamburg community and praised the YMCA for its commitment.

“This is a deep Christian faith that is put into action,” Barr said. “We can’t thank you enough for all of this.”

Barr said the mission of the YMCA is a reflection of what private citizens can accomplish when helping others.

“There is no better example, (the YMCA) is so proud to help the mind and soul of the community.”

Because of its proximity to Interstate 75, Barr said the impact of the new YMCA will extend well beyond Hamburg.

“This is easily accessible from Mount Sterling, Winchester as well as eastern Kentucky,” Barr said.

The YMCA as an asset to the community was the theme of the ceremony.

Harry Richart III, former chair of the Commerce Lexington board of directors, said the new YMCA will be a fixture in the future of Hamburg and will stand as a monument to the generosity and a commitment to civic improvement.

“This is about the maturing and quality of life in Lexington,” Richard said. “ People like (The) Whitaker (family) giving back that makes a place like this happen.”

Elmer Whitaker, CEO of Whitaker Bank, whose family name will adorn the building, said his father was committed to helping others.

“His legacy keeps us working for the enhancement to the city of Lexington and it touches the lives of so many,” Elmer Whitaker said.

Elmer Whitaker said the influence of the new YMCA will touch the lives of many other people beyond those who simply work and play there.

“It will be a gathering spot for the community and the spirit of community is built around families,” Elmer Whitaker said. “Kudos to all the staff, to enhance the entire community and thanks to everyone involved.”

Behind the scenes

Dan Koett, vice president of community relations and executive director of the C.M. Gatton Beaumont YMCA, said the need for a facility like this was obvious as Hamburg continues to expand and develop.

“For more than 160 years, the YMCA of Central Kentucky has strengthened the fabric of our community by focusing on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility,” Koett said. “Whether it’s connecting with friends, spending time as a family, or overcoming physical limitations, the Y has been the cornerstone of many of our lives and has been the foundation upon which countless goals have been set and achieved.”

With three established and thriving Lexington locations, Hamburg was the largest area of Lexington/Fayette County not being served by a YMCA.

“Based on community need, Hamburg was the obvious community for a new location,” Koett said. “Major capital renovations were completed earlier this year at the North Lexington Family Y as well as the CM Gatton Beaumont Y. Redevelopment the YMCA on High Street is currently in the  planning stage.”

The land where the new YMCA at Hamburg Place was built, as well as land for the CM Gatton Beaumont YMCA, was donated by businessman and philanthropist Bill Gatton.

YMCA of Central Kentucky President and CEO David Martorano said the property is ideal for the new facility.

“With regard to the new facility, I can’t think of a better location more perfectly suited to serve an area of our community which previously did not have a Y presence,” Martorano said.

Although the YMCA of Central Kentucky has invested millions in the project, Koett said a dollar figure doesn’t reflect the true investment.

“All in we’re right around $16MM invested on this project,” Koett said. “But the financials don’t begin to tell the story of the thousands of lives which will be impacted by the generosity of people like the Whitaker family as well as other community stakeholders.”

As plans moved forward, the YMCA reached out to the public for suggestions and recommendations. Koett said the decisions were made with “the thoughtful input given to us by the residents of the Hamburg community based on their needs for how the Y could make a positive impact now and in the future.”

That excitement carried through to the YMCA board of directors.

“I was excited to see the Y organization commit to the Hamburg area, one of the fastest growing parts of our city. There currently is not a health and wellness facility in the area that specifically targets families, which is where the Y is so strong,” Bryan Raisor, Hamburg YMCA board chairman, said. “This is our chance to build something unique and to be proud of while engaging the entire community.”

And the community may be impressed with the results.

The 70,000 square foot YMCA include a 10,000-square-foot wellness center, a youth development wing, an aquatic complex including indoor slides and an outdoor sprayground, three studios for group exercise classes, a multi-functional wellness area, full-size gymnasium and a three-lane walking/running track.

For the people behind the new facility, the impact on the community extends well beyond fun and fitness.

“We believe that to bring about meaningful change in individuals and communities, we must be focused and accountable,” Koett said. “At the Y, we measure the success of our cause by how well we engage communities in our three areas of focus.”

That impact is designed to touch many future generations.

“We have an opportunity to enhance the quality of life in our community,” Martorano said. “… you can be assured that whatever activity your family or your child engages in – from afterschool to family time to sports to camp – you’ll have a safe, positive setting to play, learn and grow.”

This article also appears on pages 10-11 of the November 2016 printed edition of the Hamburg Journal. For more Hamburg area news, subscribe to the Hamburg Journal weekly digital newsletter.