Photos and Highlights from Friday’s YMCA Groundbreaking

Brynn Grimley writes:

I attended this afternoon’s Haselwood Family YMCA groundbreaking in Silverdale and have to say it was quite the to-do.

The Central Kitsap High School Jazz Band provided the music, there was catered food and it was standing room only under the white tent situated in the corner of the Regal Cinemas parking lot.

Festivities were typical for a formal groundbreaking ceremony: gold shovels, hard hats, a bulldozer and more elected officials and community leaders in attendance than one could count.

I took a number of photos, which I’ve posted below. I’ve also provided highlights of what was said during the ceremony before the gold shovels dug into the gravel to mark the start of construction on the site.

Probably the biggest highlight of the afternoon was the surprise announcement by Joanne Haselwood’s son Rick Wiler that Al Courter, owner of Honda Auto Center of Bellevue, was pledging $100,000 to the Haselwood Family YMCA capital campaign. But he didn’t stop there, Wiler then announced he and wife Kari were matching Courter’s donation, also pledging $100,000 to the campaign.

After the ceremony Haselwood said she had no idea her son or Courter — a good friend of her late husband Chuck Haselwood — were going to make the donations. It took Haselwood three meetings before she determined she was willing to pledge $2.5 million to the project, she said. She knew her husband would have supported the idea, and decided to make the donation because she wanted her husband’s name to be remembered forever, she said.

“If you had asked Chuck: ‘We need $2.5 million to get this started,’ he would have said yes without thinking,” she said. “We’ve always donated to the Bremerton Y.”

By the end of the festivities Friday the capital campaign grew by $250,000, bringing the new total to $9,735,056.

YMCA leaders have a minimum fundraising goal of $12 million, but hope to achieve $15 million for the project. After the recent giving, they’re optimistic they’ll hit that $15 million goal, according to Bob Ecklund, CEO of the YMCA of Pierce-Kitsap Counties.

Ron Ross and wife Nadean were the first to get the ball rolling on large contributions to the capital campaign. The couple donated $1 million, but as Ross said at the groundbreaking, it was the county’s commitment to that got their attention.

“I think it is so wonderful that the county has stepped up,” Ross said. “When Nadean and I saw the effort the county put in, we got behind it.”

Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown said the Ross’ donation proved many naysayers in the community wrong. Because it took 11 years for construction to begin on site, some people believed the Central Kitsap community campus concept was a “pipe dream,” saying the leadership needed to complete the project didn’t exist in Silverdale, Brown said.

The Ross and Haselwood families proved them wrong, he said. He also said the financial investment being put into the facility — now slated to be close to 86,000 square feet — will be returned to the community likely two years after it opens by way of financial assistance given to members to guarantee everyone, no matter what their social status, can use the facility.

Once the facility is open, it will cater to all walks of life in the community, Ecklund said.

“This YMCA will serve generations to come, four, five generations from now,” he said. “It will change the community forever.”

Many of the Central Kitsap Community Council leaders were on hand to see their vision finally take shape — Hank Mann-Sykes made sure to grab a handful of gravel to take home to commemorate the day. He joked Thursday if he had to arrive on a stretcher he would because there was no way he was going to miss the event. (Luckily no stretchers were needed).

The facility is slated to be open by next summer. In the coming months I’ll use this blog to give construction updates, and will let people know when they can start applying for memberships (for those super planners out there, mark Sept. 18 on your calendars because that’s the tentative date for an event to get charter members signed up).

And finally, here are the photos of the days events:

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