Monday will be a day long remembered by current and future generations of Norfolkans.
The grand opening of the newly expanded Norfolk Family YMCA took place at 5 a.m. and was celebrated with tours throughout the day and a ribbon cutting at 5:30 p.m.
“I don’t think there’s a better word than ‘wow’ to describe this facility,” said Mayor Josh Moenning. “What we have created here is unparalleled in a building like this across the state.”
Beckenhauer Construction of Norfolk served as the general contractor for the $13.7 million expansion, using at least 26 subcontractors. The architects were Clark Enersen Partners from Lincoln, which has worked on several University of Nebraska-Lincoln projects.
The newly expanded facility sends a message to the rest of the state, Moenning said.
“It sends a message that Norfolk can do big things,” Moenning said. “It sends a message loud and clear that Norfolk is willing to invest in our future. It sends a message to our young people that we don’t have to settle for second best. You don’t have to travel two hours for a facility worthy of your time.
“It sends a message that we can compete with any community in the state in terms of building an exceptional, quality-of-life (building) that will help us to grow years into the future.”
Moenning said the facility shows what happens when communities have collaboration between nonprofits, the business community and the city.
“This is an exciting day,” he said. “This is an exciting time for Norfolk, and really, we’re just getting started.”
Randy Hagedorn, YMCA executive director, said it has been a busy four years of fundraising and planning for the expansion.
“I kept saying there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope it’s not a train meeting me,” he said.
Hagedorn said he already has received congratulations from other YMCA officials in other states, many of whom are amazed that a community of 24,000 people could have such a massive facility.
“We’re the envy of all the other Ys,” he said, noting that there is plenty of things for everyone from age 2 to senior citizens.
Justin Moore, associate director, said the new addition is outstanding.
“It’s amazing. It’s a wow factor, especially for this community,” Moore said. “Out of everywhere in Nebraska, this is easily the best Y.”
Moore said the YMCA’s staff is dedicated and has helped to make the facility what it is, including Kelsey Allen, the property manager who has been putting in many extra hours.
Doug Burkink, president of the YMCA board of directors, discussed how the idea for the addition evolved from a city study that was presented in January 2014.
Burkink said one of the strengths of the project was the architects, Clark Enersen Partners from Lincoln. The company helped the community do even more than it thought possible, he said.
“For the bang for the buck, I think we’ve done very well,” Burkink said.
Others spoke of how the facility will help keep Norfolk dollars in the community and bring new dollars for such things as tournaments and indoor team practices in the winter.
The invocation was given by the Rev. Mike Moreno. In addition, Aaron Otten, campaign co-chairman, and Jim Bradford Jr., honorary chairman, spoke during the celebration.
Many donors, businesses and individuals were recognized throughout the ceremony.