Pottstown >> The Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA has entered into a long-term lease agreement to relocate the Pottstown YMCA’s Early Learning Center.
The new facility for the full-day childcare is located about 2 miles from the YMCA’s location on North Adams Street.
The YMCA Early Learning Center will move to 1000 Heritage Drive in the Sunnybrook Village Business Campus in Lower Pottsgrove, the site of the former Learning Experience — a childcare center that closed in September.
“The building is 12 years old. It’s a really nice building and I believe it will be one of our nicest childcare centers in the whole system,” Shaun Elliott, president and CEO, Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA said in an interview Friday.
The new facility is 10,000 square feet, has a 4,000-square-foot outdoor playground, eight classrooms, a kitchen and an indoor play area. Elliott said the organization has committed to a 10-year-lease for the building.
“This is a significant upgrade in terms of facility. It is newer and is in better condition,” Elliott added.
By comparison, the current childcare center at the Pottstown YMCA is 7,580 square feet.
Elliott said the organization planned to reach out to members Friday afternoon, to inform them about the new location.
“We’ll be connecting and working with them. We’re hopeful that given how nice the facility is, they’ll be excited,” he said.
He added that the YMCA plans to “keep the exact same fees” members are currently paying for childcare.
Even though the new location was previously a childcare center, the YMCA must go through a licensing process before making the move. That process is underway and could take a couple of months, according to Elliott.
Elliott indicated that subject to the licensing, there could potentially be 125 students enrolled, which would be an increase from the current 113.
Elliott said the building requires little renovation.
“We looked at a number of locations where we could have a high quality center in relative proximity to where we were,” he said. “Once we identified the location it took a little while to negotiate the lease.” The lease was finalized earlier this month.
The Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA revealed in November that it plans to close Pottstown’s YMCA branch effective June 29. At the same time, in communications with the Pottstown branch’s 142 employees and 5,500 members, the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA reaffirmed its commitment to Pottstown.
In announcing the closing, Elliott cited “significant building issues” that would require $11 million in repairs over the next 10 years, including $3 million in critical repairs.
In addition to continuing to offer licensed, full-day pre-school, the YMCA will continue to offer school care and summer camp. Enrollment for summer camp is underway.
Another component is finding a facility that will house the Y’s fitness and wellness programs. Elliott said Friday that search is continuing.
Several things have happened since the announcement about the closing was made.
A task force was formed to discuss alternate ways of providing services to the Pottstown community. The 10-member group includes representatives from the community, the YMCA and the Pottstown Health and Wellness Foundation.
The group has already conducted a member survey.
“Of those members that returned the survey, close to two-thirds said they will look at or take advantage of one of the other branches in the area,” Elliott said, adding that there are three YMCA branches within eight miles.
“There is still some disappointment — especially around the pool. We understand and empathize. That is probably where we get the most feedback,” he added.
Elliott said he expects the task force to remain active for the next several months.
No layoffs are expected as a result of the branch closing. A spokeswoman for the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA reaffirmed that position on Friday.
“All child care staff will relocate to the new child care center and we are working with non-child care Y employees to ensure placement within our organization,” said Tasha Dougherty, director of communications, Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA.
For more information about the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA visit philaymca.org.
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