YMCA Reopens After Hurricane Sandy


“Not again.”

Those were the words of Westport-Weston YMCA Communications Director Scott Smith as he toured the Y building in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

A little over a year after Westport was rocked by Hurricane Irene, in which the Y had suffered some minimal damage and flooding, the outcome of Sandy was much more grim.

The wood of the lower gym basketball court was rippled like waves, the day care center was demolished, and water had engulfed up to five feet of the very bottom floor, damaging everything from electrical lines to drainage systems.

Fast forward to Friday Nov. 30. About a month after Hurricane Sandy hit Westport, the Y excitedly announced its partial reopening in an email to members and staff stating, “We have wonderful news to share…The family Y will resume operations utilizing two external generators to supply power to the facility.”

With the recent reopening, still comes that dreaded “however”, with about 55 families currently without daycare service for their children, and with the Brophy pool still off limits. Although this may be the case, the Y provided lists of additional daycare centers in the area for families who have been inconvenienced by the closure and replaced the damage drain system and plumbing in the pools. The lack of pools in particular has been a cause of strain for members and Y staff.

“The closure definitely showed us the critical need for indoor pool space in the town,” said Smith. “We are so thankful to Staples, which has allowed our Water Wrats swim team to practice in the facility while we’ve been closed, but that’s not a permanent solution.”

Many of the reparations made to get the facility back in semi-working condition were made possible due to the generosity of the members. Upon the initial closure of the Y, members were informed that they had the option to cancel their memberships, suspend their membership, or donate their monthly membership fee back to the Y to help with Sandy repairs. An overwhelming amount donated their fees making speedy reparation a reality.

“It really all comes down to serving the members safely in a working facility. That’s all we want to do”.

To thank the various members, construction crews, and staff that made the reopening possible, the Y held a Reopening Party on Dec. 11 at 7pm at Christ & Holy Trinity Church.

While teams of Y staff and hired workers chipped away at various repairs, a group of Staples students were left without work. Many students work as lifeguards and swim instructors at the YMCA, and for them, the reopening could not come soon enough.

“I really didn’t expect the Y to be closed for this long… I missed it while it was down though; I really enjoy working with the kids in my lessons,” said Tory Scordato ’13, a swim instructor.

Students who earn an income through the Y were happy for the reopening, but the primary goal, according to Smith as well as other staff members, was the safety of members and the community.

The road to reopening was a slow process, lead by Pat Costanzo, the director of property for the YMCA. Smith credits Costanzo for expediting reparations and getting crews in quickly to bail out water and fix what needed to be fixed.

The YMCA is scheduled to move within the next few years to its new location on the Mahackeno property, but that didn’t cause Y staff to skimp on any of the reparations. In order to reopen, the building had to pass various inspections and was issued a temporary Certificate of Occupancy by the town of Westport.

“The last thing we wanted was to open a building that was unsafe. Our members were the #1 priority,” said Smith.

Until the big move, the Westport-Weston YMCA will continue working to become the fully functional facility it once was, said Smith.

“Sandy was a blow… but we’re coming back”