YMCA closing for two-week, $150,000 renovation

Caleb Fields of Legacy Sports Camp leads a group of children through basketball drills at the West Cook YMCA in 2013.
Caleb Fields of Legacy Sports Camp leads a group of children through basketball drills at the West Cook YMCA in 2013. | File

The West Cook YMCA in Oak Park will close for two weeks while the 60-year-old facility on South Marion Street undergoes a major end-of-summer makeover.

From Aug. 20 to Sept. 3, about 90 volunteers will help a team of professional contractors complete a thorough cleaning and partial renovation of the building’s interior — a job that’s long overdue, said Richard Barry, spokesman for the West Cook YMCA.

“Normally, YMCAs close for a week every summer to renew the building,” Barry said. “This one hasn’t been closed for a cleaning in five years, so they’ll be going through every inch from top to bottom.”

Approximately $150,000 in funds from the YMCA Board and the YMCA organization are being used for the project.

On the list of major areas to be targeted are the swimming pool, wellness center, the two gyms, spas, racquetball courts and locker rooms.

The pool will be relined with a membrane layer on the pool floor — a job that hasn’t been done for at least 12 years, said Phillip Jimenez, president and CEO of the West Cook YMCA.

The walls in the pool area and inside the pool will get a fresh coat of paint, and the deck surrounding the pool will also be lined with an antimicrobial material.

“When you look at the pool itself, it will look like a brand new surface underneath the water,” Jimenez said.

Other major projects are the replacement of the floor in the wellness center and the installation of a new front desk counter at the front entrance to the building.

The preschool classrooms and the 127-single-occupancy residential rooms will be thoroughly cleaned, repainted and retiled in the areas that need it, Jimenez said.

The 90 residents currently living at the YMCA won’t be relocated during the closure but instead will be asked to temporarily move to a different room as each room is renovated.

The YMCA rooms have an average occupancy rate of 85 percent, and the space provides a place to stay for people going through economic hardship those in the process of a cross-country move or a separation in a relationship, Jimenez said.

Outside the building, the only exterior improvement planned is repavement of the rocky, jagged surface of the north parking lot.

The two-week project list includes 114 items, Jimenez said.

All West Cook YMCA programs will be suspended during the project, but members may use other facilities, including the Pav YMCA in Berwyn, the Elmhurst YMCA, the LaGrange YMCA, the McCormick Tribune YMCA in Chicago and the Park District of Forest Park’s Gottleib Center for Fitness.

“This is about investing in the Y for our community,” Jimenez said. “We are very happy to be able to do this because one of our most important goals is to provide greater member value.”

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