Whatcom Family YMCA takes over recreation center in Sudden Valley


SUDDEN VALLEY - The Whatcom Family YMCA will launch its fourth center in the county when it takes over recreation in this private community under a three-year agreement with the Sudden Valley Community Association.

The YMCA will oversee and staff the community recreation center - home to the health club - an outdoor pool, and recreational programs that include outdoor youth sports.

The nonprofit plans to offer memberships to its Sudden Valley Program Center and open the doors beginning March 1.

Memberships will be available to Sudden Valley residents and those who live outside the community.

"It's very much a part of our mission to bring the YMCA to where people are," said Dan Powell, CEO for Whatcom Family YMCA.

Whatcom YMCA has centers in Bellingham, Ferndale and Lynden.

Current Sudden Valley recreation employees have been offered jobs with the Y, according to Powell.

The YMCA had previously offered swimming lessons and provided lifeguards at the pool. This agreement will allow it to expand its offerings in Sudden Valley.

"We're going to start slowly, do a survey and find out what people want," Powell said, adding that the organization will build on those that do well.

"We have a huge menu of activities and programs and classes to present to the Sudden Valley community," he said of offerings for youths and adults.

The reasons for the Sudden Valley board approving the agreement include:

-- The YMCA has more resources to put on programs and run the center than the private community association, given the Y's existing staffing and experience.

As a result, the Y's membership fees also will cost less than those charged by the community association.

"This is what they do," Jeff Schlaack, Sudden Valley's general manager, said. "So it's substantially less for a family."

-- Having such a center in their own backyard will help re-engage families with children in Sudden Valley.

"It truly is a benefit to everybody," Schlaack said.

The association isn't charging the YMCA rent, but the Y will be responsible for operating costs that include utilities, staffing and general upkeep of the building.

A grand opening is tentatively set for April.

The recreation center is next to the barn that's being renovated to serve as the new South Whatcom Library.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com .

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