On Friday, March 14, the YMCA held a ceremony celebrating the opening of the Rockaway YMCA at Arverne by the Sea. The Y officially opened in February, but its grand opening was delayed due to inclement weather.
“The response from the community has been absolutely overwhelming,” said Rockaway YMCA Executive Director Rick Hopkins. “We’re hoping to rebuild an entire community, and nobody does that better than the Y.”
The 44,000-square-foot facility is home to the YMCA’s largest aquatics center in New York City, and features a lap pool, family-friendly recreational pool with a large slide and water features for young children.
The facility also offers a full-court gymnasium, fitness center, outdoor recreational field, community multi-purpose space for youth and family programs, and more.
Community leaders hope the new branch will spur economic development in the Rockaways and create hundreds of jobs in a community still recovering from Hurricane Sandy.
“The fact that the YMCA today is in the Rockaways shows that Queens is moving forward, and we are excited by that change,” said Borough President Melinda Katz.
Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska thanked the YMCA for not only building a new facility in the Rockaways, but for keeping residents informed during the construction.
“This has been a labor of love for the community board,” Gaska said. “Quite frankly, Arverne by the Sea began the renaissance for the Rockaways.”
Haydee Rivera, who lives up the block from the facility, said the YMCA has been missing from Far Rockaway for far too long. As soon as its door opened, she and her family became members.
“It’s a great thing for the community,” she said.