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POLICE STATION REBUILT FOR SIMI'S YMCA; FACILITY WILL BE OPEN BY APRIL.

Byline: Sylvia L. Oliande Staff Writer

As the new YMCA starts to take shape at the site of the former police station and courthouse, organizers said they have walked through the construction site, marveling at the transformation.

Executive Director Jim King said he has been waiting for this construction for 15 years.

``I'm like an expectant parent with the building under construction,'' he said. ``With the framing and concrete, the vertical movement, you can actually see the rooms taking shape and the structure of it.

``I walk out to the site, feel like it isn't even happening. I have to pinch myself.''

Similarly, Don Ferre, senior program director, said whenever he visits the site at Cochran Street and Galena Avenue, he stands in what will become the new multipurpose room and wonders at the thought that trials once were held there.

More than five months into construction, the facility is emerging on the site. The pools are in, the walls are going up and the old buildings are disappearing.

``It's exciting to see the rotunda, the metal supports are all put into place,'' Ferre said. ``They're really taking shape. It just looks beautiful.''

Officials hope to have the facility finished and open for business by April, but Simi Valley residents will have a chance to sign up for memberships beginning Jan. 3.

Ferre said he believes the community will respond in droves to the new center, based on the monetary contributions that came in during the Y's community gift fund-raising drive.

Organizers had hoped the community would provide $200,000 in contributions, but they responded with more than $300,000 of the $2.2 million needed to build and furnish the facility.

Scott Thomas, a board member and vice chairman of programs, said the organization is still fund-raising but has enough right now to complete construction and fill the building with equipment and furniture.

Now, contributions will go toward scholarships to help families who cannot afford to pay the full cost of child care or to help subsidize membership for families to join the facility.

Ferre also is hiring people to fill approximately 30 to 50 new positions generated by the opening of the facility, including a senior program director, front-desk workers, lifeguards and swim instructors.

For much of the Simi YMCA's history, the facility has been little more than a storefront from which they operate programs such as Indian Guides, karate and gymnastics lessons. The organization also has day-care centers at 10 local schools.

Officials decided it was about time to expand and offer a full complement of physical fitness programs for area residents.

Board President Judy Winzer said she likens the process of planning and building the facility to a train. At first, she said, organizers had to decide which direction they were going to go, who was going to come on board and what they would do along the way.

``That train goes slow at first, but soon it starts to get its own pace,'' she said. ``People come on board and things start to happen. Now it's just moving along so fast, and to see it built is just wonderful.''

The new 23,000-square-foot facility will have a 25-yard indoor pool, a hydrotherapy pool and a fitness center with cardiovascular and strength machines, and a multipurpose room for aerobics.

Thomas said the facility was designed to attract people of all ages who want to keep in shape. He said while many commercial fitness clubs cater to younger adults, they can be intimidating to others, especially seniors.

``Our facility is relationships-oriented,'' he said. ``And more than serving the physical fitness component, it's more the social component, the relationships.''
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 27, 1999
Words:611
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